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Addressing Barriers to Equitable Distance Learning with President Jim Ryan, Dean Robert Pianta, and Distinguished Guests

On Thursday, February 4th, alumni, parents, and friends joined UVA President Jim Ryan for a discussion on how we can address structural barriers to equitable distance learning. An introduction and groundwork for the discussion was provided by Robert Pianta, Dean, UVA School of Education and Human Development; Novartis Professor of Education; Founding Director, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning.

Our distinguished panelists included:

  • Larry Irving was the administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President Clinton and led the development of the first empirical study to document the existence of the “Digital Divide”
  • Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) has led the legislative effort in the House of Representatives to ensure students have internet access for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel spearheads the movement to address the “digital equity crisis” by modernizing the federal E-Rate program that helps provide internet access to schools and libraries so that it can also be used to provide internet access to students at home

The panelists discussed the digital divide impacts communities, how the e-rate program could be expanded, and how no student “should be left offline”.