During this period in which the latest news is primarily focused on COVID-19, our “Social Distance” editions will look at the manner in which the public health crisis is impacting public education, children, and families in Connecticut and nationwide.
How CT Higher Ed Leaders Are Responding to Crisis
Last week, our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT, hosted a virtual forum about how CT colleges are meeting the immediate needs of students as closed campuses undertake remote learning programs. The discussion—featuring Senator Will Haskell, Chairman of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee, Mark Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, and Richard Sugarman, President of Hartford Promise—covered issues such as the emotional and financial health of students, delaying college graduation ceremonies, adjusting admissions requirements in light of changed circumstances for high school seniors, and how the state’s legislative session has been impacted. We are so grateful to these dynamic leaders for their ongoing work to protect students during the pandemic. (And looking forward to our next virtual forum on remote learning, featuring state leaders and superintendents.)
Dems Seek E-Rate Subsidies for Distance Learning
Also last week, CT's Democratic US Senators joined their peers in sending a letter to congressional leadership, calling for robust E-Rate subsidies in the next COVID-19 bill. The request includes $2 billion to provide Wi-Fi hotspots via schools and libraries for students without home connectivity. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 12 million students in K-12 schools lack internet access, which contributes to students’ risk of falling behind academically. Indeed, in yesterday’s article for The 74 Million, Dana Laurens, from our national policy office, observed that these students have always been disadvantaged in school by lack of access to broadband, but that the move to distance learning during this pandemic has now made the factor a critical shortcoming.
Academic Accountability in the CARES Act
The federal CARES Act, passed at the end of March, included provisions that expedite the processing of state waivers from assessments requirements and ESSA accountability measures. Although relief from these requirements is a logistical necessity right now, Amy published an opinion in the New Haven Register on Thursday, urging a statewide commitment to continued accountability once the public health crisis abates. “We cannot let these temporary changes become an opening for a long-term roll back of accountability over the progress of students,” she wrote. “There are already so many ways in which our most at-risk student populations — those who have special needs or live in poverty or are enrolled in struggling districts — will be affected by this crisis.”
For those who celebrate, wishing you and yours a meaningful holiday week.