Elizabeth Fairchild


Washington, DC — Today, Business Forward Foundation updated its 2020 report on “The Homework Gap” to reflect new evidence of the damage COVID-19 is having on students, as well as the current status of bills in Congress that could help. 

The update includes data from fall 2020 on student access to technology, broadband, teachers, and other resources. Since last spring, schools have adapted their curricula and instituted teacher training to make it easier for students to learn remotely. However, gaps in access still remain for Black and Hispanic students.

“One year in, students are doing worse than we feared, and students from poor families are being harmed disproportionately,” said Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward Foundation. “Congress is focused on broadband, which is commendable, but if we do not do more to provide affordable laptops, deploy distance-ready curriculum, and train teachers in how to use it, our spending on broadband could be wasted.” 

“Solving today’s homework gap may be America’s best opportunity to ‘build back better,’” said Doyle. “The digital infrastructure we build this year will help low-income students for the next decade, providing them with homework support that affluent students take for granted — and shrinking the achievement gap in the process.”

The government’s recent investments towards closing the homework gap, including $54 billion in funds to schools for remote learning and $7 billion for expanding broadband access, are a start. But we need more long-term investments across the board. The issue brief suggests that closing the homework gap is a matter of tackling contributing gaps simultaneously. “To continue their education in a distance learning environment, every student needs access to a laptop, broadband, digital literacy, parental assistance, a school offering online curriculum, and teachers who know how to use it,” said Doyle, “If we only address the broadband gap, we could waste billions of dollars.” 

To lay the groundwork for more effective remote learning, we must close these gaps with substantial investments. And even though the government earmarked $54 billion for K-12 education, some of those funds could be cancelled out by budget cuts as states face shortfalls from the pandemic.


The Business Forward Foundation is an independent research and education organization that takes a business-minded look at policy issues affecting America’s economic competitiveness. Our work combines insights and advice from business leaders across the country with rigorous policy analysis. Through white papers, issue briefs, conference calls, and other events, we educate policy makers and the public about climate change, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, the future of work, and other critical issues.