As a candidate and as President, John F. Kennedy pushed the government to remake the classroom. In 1960, he told the National Association of Educational Broadcasters that shoring up the \u201cshameful weaknesses\u201d of the nation\u2019s classrooms was a question of \u201cnational survival.\u201d Of all the modern presidents, Kennedy may have had the most prescient vision of what technology can do for society.\nKennedy called the leading audiovisual technology of the time an instrument \u201cwith the potential to teach more things to more people in less time than anything yet devised,\u201d saying it \u201cseems a providential instrument to come to education\u2019s aid.\u201d\nTo that end, he signed the Educational Television Act in 1962, providing funds for noncommercial television broadcasting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) then created the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) to beam educational TV into the classroom.\nAs it turned out, TV transformed nearly everything but the classroom. Asking teachers to be TV producers was too much, and the idea didn\u2019t get far off the ground. Much of the airwaves set aside for the ITFS lay fallow, and nearly half the states had no ITFS licensees.\nTime and technology don\u2019t stand still, even as policy seems stuck in the past. New technologies came, and the FCC transformed ITFS into the Educational Broadband Service (EBS), recognizing that new technologies might allow Kennedy\u2019s idea to flower.\nOnce again, technology transformed the world, but the EBS remained stuck in the past. Few educators knew how to use it, and funding was in short supply. So, with the FCC\u2019s blessing, educational entities leased their EBS licenses to commercial entities, including mobile wireless carriers.\n2.5 GHz spectrum band can power 5G and the IoT\nEBS frequencies \u2013 also known as the 2.5 GHz band \u2013 lie in the middle of the frequency range. These mid-band frequencies sit in a spectrum \u201csweet spot.\u201d They are low enough to cover large areas but have the bandwidth to carry high-capacity services. With its high functionality, mid-band spectrum can support the latest technologies, like autonomous vehicles and augmented reality. In short, it\u2019s ideally situated for 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).\nFor these reasons, mid-band spectrum is where most of the rest of the world will deploy 5G. For the U.S., it\u2019s a vital missing link that properly utilized could ensure American global dominance of the future of wireless communications.\nSo where does this leave the EBS? Unfortunately, it\u2019s in the same place as when it was the Instructional Television Fixed Service. The 2.5 GHz band is underutilized or unused in about half of the country, and the FCC estimates that more than 90 percent of the EBS licenses held by educational institutions are leased to other entities.\nFCC Commissioner suggests EBS spectrum auction would help solve Homework Gap problem\nIt doesn\u2019t have to stay this way. Enlightened policy makers like FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel have a better idea.\nSeven in 10 teachers assign homework requiring internet access, and the FCC says one-third of all households, mostly in rural areas, do not have broadband service.\u00a0Commissioner Rosenworcel coined the phrase the \u201cHomework Gap\u201d to describe the place where those numbers overlap. The Senate Joint Economic Committee says the Homework Gap affects 12 million school-aged kids across the country. For students in households without broadband, getting homework done is extremely difficult.\nAs a former rural legislator, I\u2019ve seen the problem firsthand. Kids should not have to go to McDonald\u2019s or sit in the parking lot of a business with Wi-Fi in order to complete their homework assignments.\nCommissioner Rosenworcel\u2018s idea is to help close the Homework Gap by putting frequencies in the 2.5 GHz band into an incentive auction. Incentive auctions first pay the entity that holds the license, with the money left over going to the government. In the recent broadcast incentive auction, broadcasters received $10 billion, and approximately $8 billion went to the U.S. Treasury.\nThis idea has a lot of merit. The auction is voluntary. Educational institutions that have developed the EBS could keep those frequencies. Institutions wanting in? They could sell. Commissioner Rosenworcel goes a necessary step further, as her plan would designate the government\u2019s share of the proceeds for education, helping schools find innovative ways to make progress toward closing the Homework Gap.\nWhile Commissioner Rosenworcel and I are Democrats, this idea isn\u2019t partisan. Technology policy traditionally has been bipartisan, and Republicans like FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O\u2019Rielly have also expressed support for examining an auction for the EBS.\nIf all goes well, we will have a policy that would be a credit to JFK\u2019s original idea, giving educators a providential instrument that can help with funding to close the Homework Gap, while at the same time moving the U.S. to the 5G forefront.