Important Distance Learning Bills

Yesterday, the Senate took up and passed SB 3044, the Equity in Distance Learning Act, which creates a grant program to assist school districts in purchasing computer devices and covering other COVID-19-related expenses. The current Senate plan would allocate $150-million in CARES Act funding for this purpose.

Another bill, SB 3046, the COVID-19 Connectivity Act, was assigned to the Senate Energy Committee today. It establishes a grant program to expand internet access to areas of the state that have little or no coverage. 

The House is expected to file its own distance learning bill early next week. 

In other news:

  • The Senate Education Committee declined to confirm Gov. Reeves’ nomination of former Senator Nancy Collins to the State Board of Education. As a senator, Collins authored the ESA voucher bill that uses public dollars to pay tuition at private schools and pushed other privatization measures. We are grateful to the committee for its courageous action to protect the integrity of the State Board of Education and the interests of public school students. Committee members reported receiving hundreds of phone calls and emails opposing Collins’ nomination.
  • The pre-k bill, SB 2286, was amended on the floor to strike the current language and replace it with Community Schools legislation. While we support the concept of community schools, we believe strongly that an increased investment in high quality pre-k is among the very best investments we can make for our children. That bill is expected to go to conference.

You can see the status of all the education bills we are following on our web site’s bill tracker.

The Legislature is expected to wrap up this portion of its work by next Friday. Legislators have passed a resolution extending the session until October so they can come back to Jackson to address any pandemic-related issues that arise, including allocation of any additional federal funds that might be appropriated for that purpose. Please hang with us for one more week; we may need your help again. Together, we’ve got this!