K-12 Schools to Receive $150M for Distance Learning Under Senate Proposal

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Licensure Bill Aimed at Reducing Teacher Shortage Sent to Governor

The Mississippi Senate voted today to dedicate $150 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to K-12 education needs amid COVID-19.  The goal is equipping every Mississippi student with a laptop or tablet and improving connectivity for distance learning.

With an overwhelming 51 votes and dozens of co-sponsors, the Equity in Distance Learning Act, Senate Bill 3044, cleared the floor and is headed to the House for consideration.

“The pandemic shined a bright light on the significant technology gaps in our State, but our teachers and students made adjustments and rose to the challenge,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said.  “Under the leadership of Education Chairman Dennis DeBar, this legislation will help bridge the digital divide, secure devices and better connectivity for students and teachers, and launch teaching and learning in Mississippi into the future.”

Eligible expenses under the legislation include laptop computers and tablets; software, including learning management systems; hotspots or other devices to increase connectivity; security enhancement; professional development; or other items necessary to increase safety and health in classrooms.  The money, as the bill is currently written, would be distributed to school districts based on average daily attendance.

School districts would have the flexibility to spend the funds on unique needs in their districts within certain parameters.  The legislation requires the development of distance learning, technology sustainability, and responsible use policies.

To track Senate Bill 3044’s progress, visit http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2020/pdf/history/SB/SB3044.xml.

The Mississippi Senate also sent a bill critical to ending the teacher shortage in the State to the Governor with unanimous support.

Senate Bill 2511, authored by Senator DeBar, would allow college students to enter a School of Education if they have achieved a 21 ACT score, 3.0-grade point average on pre-major coursework, or a passing score on the Praxis Core, the test traditionally used in teacher certification programs. The law currently requires a 21 ACT score and 2.75-grade point average in content coursework.

All of the Schools of Education in Mississippi’s private and public universities and colleges across the State support the change, citing the 21 ACT requirement as an obstacle blocking more than 350 students from becoming teachers.

To track Senate Bill visit 2511’s progress, visit: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2020/pdf/history/SB/SB2511.xml.  To learn more about Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, visit www.ltgovhosemann.ms.gov.

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