Sen. Warner Taps Tech Execs to Help Close Pandemic’s ‘Education Gap’

For most students across the country, a computer will be their classroom to start this school year.

To meet the demands of that coronavirus pandemic-driven trend, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has sent letters to the CEOs of four major technology companies asking that the firms take a variety of actions to put digital devices into the hands of students who lack the proper equipment to engage in online learning.

“I urge you take immediate action to help close this new education gap created by the health crisis as the school year commences,” Sen. Warner wrote. His letter to Google’s Sundar Pichai, Apple’s Tim Cook, Dell’s Michael Dell, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella outlines the challenges faced in education by students and school districts lacking digital devices for all students.

The senator previously asked internet service providers to do their part in closing the “homework gap” for students lacking sufficient connectivity.

“There are a range of actions your company can take, including educational product discounts, the provision of complimentary or donated computers (including for home lending programs many educational institutions operate), and the provision of refurbished or returned products in good working condition for school districts and higher education institutions to distribute to educators and students,” Sen. Warner wrote.

For younger students, he said, in the range of kindergarten through 2nd grade, tablets are most useful. He added that intermediate students benefit more from small laptops and their features.  For high school students and above, he said, more capable laptops best meet their needs.

“Containing the economic and social impact of COVID-19 requires a whole-of-society effort,” wrote Sen. Warner, adding that he looked forward to prompt responses to his letter.

Dwight Weingarten
About Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.