Education Policy Roundup

Legislation Around Capitol Hill: Congress Intros Bill to Close Digital Divide

Lawmakers in Congress introduced five bills this week that could impact the lives of teachers and students in significant ways.

Over the last week, lawmakers in the Senate have introduced five bills that are designed to radically shift the United States  educational system by supporting loan forgiveness, closing the digital divide, tracking down student debt relief scams, creating evidence-based education grants and restoring Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals.

Here are five bills that would change how the federal government oversees educational programs:

  • Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the What You Can Do for Your Country Act of 2019, which will overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This bill will expand eligibility to make every type of federal loan and repayment plan included in the PSLF program and to allow public servants to count on repayment when they apply for loan forgiveness. The legislation is supported by several organizations including AFSCME, the National Education Association, Equal Justice Works and Student Debt Crisis.

  • Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019, which will create federal investments targeted at closing the digital divide in communities across the United States. The legislation will create an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and an additional annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions or communities of interest.

    The bill is supported by CoSN. “This new digital equity bill constitutes a major step forward toward closing the homework gap and providing equitable digital access to students nationwide — regardless of where they live or their family’s income,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger in a statement. “If enacted, the bill will ensure that schools in rural and underserved communities are not left behind in our increasingly digital world.”

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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