NREA Weekly Updates and Events: September 18th, 2020

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NREA Resources COVID-19
NREA "The Rural Voice" Podcast Series
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50 States in 50 Weeks:
We Need Your Stories!
We Need Your Stories!
We are always looking for new stories! Submit or nominate today:
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Policy & Legislative Topics
Briefing on “How Money Matters in Education"
Briefing on “How Money Matters in Education
Wednesday September 23rd - 02:00 PM EST

-Dr. Tom Harnisch, Vice President for Government Relations, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
-Dr. Rucker C. Johnson, Professor of Public Policy, University of California-Berkeley
-Dr. Jenna Sablan, Senior Policy Analyst, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
-David Sciarra, Esq., Executive Director, Education Law Center

The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) is a non-partisan, non-profit coalition of more than 100 education institutions, associations, and others representing the education continuum. CEF advocates for a greater federal investment in education, providing informational resources and analyses on the impact of federal education programs, federal budget proposals, and the need for additional resources, which is greater now than ever. Click see more to register.
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Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus releases COVID-relief package –
Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus releases COVID-relief package –
Yesterday the bipartisan congressional Problem Solvers Caucus released the outline for what it billed as a compromise COVID-relief package that is smaller in scope and cost than the House-passed Heroes Act but larger than the recent Senate Republican proposals that did not advance. However, neither Republicans nor Democrats seem inclined to support the proposal, with Democrats wanting Republicans to pass a proposal first and unwilling to come down this far from the larger policies and funding the House passed in May. Democrats have said they’d be willing to support a $2.2 trillion package; this new proposal is about $1.5 trillion. The four PDFs attached describe the package, which includes the following education-related funding and policy:
  • $100 billion for elementary and secondary education
  • $30 billion for institutions of higher education
  • $15 billion for child care providers, with $10 billion for providers and $5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • $12 billion for broadband access
  • $500 billion for state and local aid (a large share of state budgets are used for education), and student loan forbearance extended through the end of the year (the CARES Act relief expires at the end of September)
As schools begin reopening for the school year, a group of 70 developers and researchers collaborated to produce a new series of “Guides to Education Technologies.” These guides present information on government-supported education technology products that are ready now for in-class and remote learning. All the resources are web-based and can be used on computers, tablets, or personal devices. Many of the technologies personalize learning by adjusting the content to students as they go and provide information to educators to inform instruction. The guides focus on the following areas: early learning, math, science and engineering, social studies, and special education.
Rural Educator Weekly Spotlight: Fall 2020 Journal
Rural Education and Election Candidates: Three Questions
Rural Education and Election Candidates: Three Questions
This issue's policy brief suggests that it is important to evaluate election candidates' platforms and views about rural education and rural communities.
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Rural Broadband from Both Sides of the Aisle:
What They Are Saying: Lawmakers, FCC Commissioners Agree Urgent Action Required to Bridge the Digital Divide
What They Are Saying: Lawmakers, FCC Commissioners Agree Urgent Action Required to Bridge the Digital Divide
Here’s what lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, are saying about the urgency for action to bridge the digital divide:

Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA-18), Chairman, U.S. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology:

“For many of us, high speed broadband has become the means by which we work, live and stay healthy. In the last seven months, the internet has become the lifeline we used to buy groceries, see doctors and interact with the outside world.”

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-02), Ranking Member U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce:

“Let’s show America how we can work together to close the digital divide, that should be our common goal.”

Rep. Jerry McNerrny (D-CA-09):

“Every school in my district is starting at 100 percent distance learning in addition to the stress of wildfires and the many challenges of shifting to distance learning. The burden of addressing connectivity gaps facing students has fallen entirely on our schools.”

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI-07):

“We all want connectivity, we all know that we’re not there yet; we’re expanding that direction, we need to achieve it … we’re going to need more of this in the rural areas and I’m hoping that common sense prevails.”

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01):

“The work of the Federal Communications Commission to ensure connectivity to all Americans has never been more critical. When I say all Americans, I mean every American...We need to look into the future, plan for the future and allow everybody – businesses, healthcare, education – to have the same abilities as any other area in America.”

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT-00):

“The internet is a lifeline for our rural communities. It contributes to our economies, enabling precision agriculture, education, health care and jobs and this crisis has highlighted the ability for folks to work from anywhere yet two in five Montanans in our rural areas lack access to broadband.”

Marc A. Veasey (D-TX-33):

“We know, in this digital divide, having broadband internet at home is critical to everything we do – from virtual learning to telehealth, to applying for a job or paying rent – all of these connections are only as strong as our weakest signal. We need to make sure we have a reliable connection at home.”

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-06):

“As this pandemic has highlighted, far too many Americans still don’t have access to reliable high-speed internet.”

Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL-09):

“In the midst of a pandemic, internet access is – in all senses – a lifeline… normal and incremental progress just won’t cut it, we need extraordinary and heroic efforts in other areas… Our teachers do not have proper technology and students don’t have the devices and sufficient access to high speed internet to learn properly, and they’re falling through the cracks.”

Marsha Blackburn: Senate goes bipartisan for rural broadband
Marsha Blackburn: Senate goes bipartisan for rural broadband
This back-to-school season certainly is off to a different beginning than in years past. As Tennessee teachers kick off the year with a mix of in-person and remote instruction, parents are facing a host of new challenges while shepherding their children through a combination of in-class and virtual lessons. They’re asking themselves: What can I do to help my child focus? Will my child’s teacher be able to provide one-on-one help? How will all this impact my own work schedule?
Rural Tennesseans, like many rural Americans, experience an added element of stress and additional complications when it comes to remote learning: lack of high-speed internet access. If you ask a parent from New York City or Los Angeles about the biggest obstacle they faced during the transition to eLearning, chances are slim to none they’ll complain about connection speeds. Tennessee students, on the other hand, are now learning the hard way that both the tablets and laptops meant to create a new type of classroom experience are practically useless without reliable Internet.
While it is my hope that all of our students will be able to return to the consistency of in-classroom learning as soon as possible, in the meantime we need to do everything in our power to invest in underserved communities and close this “digital divide.”
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Biden campaign pushes for improved broadband access in rural and tribal areas
Biden campaign pushes for improved broadband access in rural and tribal areas
UNITED STATES – Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign held a roundtable about rural and tribal broadband access Friday.
“The Covid-19 crisis has revealed that Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable and high-speed internet to do their jobs and participate equally in remote school learning,” Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.
Biden’s Build Back Better economic plan features a $2 trillion investment in infrastructure including universal broadband.
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