There's a new trending hashtag on Twitter, created by teachers in hopes of sparking change.

Educators across the nation are sounding off on Verizon -- taking to Twitter and Facebook over a fee increase planned for the popular education app, Remind.

Mallory Mitchell teaches 9th and 11th grade history and describes news of the fee increase as a total shock.

REMIND APP PLANNED FEE

"In my classroom we use it all the time. I use the app to send text messages to my students for tests, reminders on when assignments are due, and they are then able to respond back to me and ask me questions, " Mallory Mitchell, Opelika High School Teacher explains.

Mitchell is one of many educators joining the digital protest, ReverseTheFee.  

In addition to texting, the app is a means of sharing files, assignments, instructions, and notes.  Users opt into a group, like a class or extracurricular activity, which allows them to communicate directly without exchanging phone numbers.

But all that may change for Verizon customers who use Remind on Jan. 28, when the fees are set to go into effect.  

If the fees are enacted, Remind intends to discontinue providing free text messaging services to Verizon customers.  Email and in-app communications will continue to work, however some educators say that only works for parents and students with smartphones and data plans.

"Those text messages have been wonderful for our kids. We are a lower poverty school...not all of our parents and children have smartphones," Stacy Royster, Technology Coordinator for Opelika Schools tells FOX10 News Anchor Lenise Ligon.

"We are about to leave those students that we are trying our best to work with...to get them out of poverty...behind because of this decision by Verizon.  

In a statement, Verizon states the the fee is necessary to fund spam-blocking services.

We agree that schools and education-related institutions should not receive any fees for sending or receiving public service text messages.

A small fee to Twilio, a for-profit company, is intended to share costs incurred to help protect students, parents and teachers from spam and dangerous text messages over the Verizon network, while reducing fraud. That very small fee will be charged only to major text messaging aggregation companies such as Remind and Twilio– and not schools, parents or students.

If anybody claims you need to pay a text message fee to Verizon, they're not telling the truth.

Remind alone sends 1.6 billion text messages a year on the Verizon wireless network through Twilio, and Twilio sends more than 4.5 billion each year. The small fee on Twilio will pay for the work required to contain spam and fraud associated with this service.

Again, there is no Verizon fee to parents or schools. We’re now working through plans with Twilio and Remind so that they will not charge students, parents, educators or schools for this fee.

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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