The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world, shifting students and teachers away from the classroom, and forcing us to adapt to a new normal – virtual learning.

Congress attempted to ease this transition with the CARES Act, which provided 13.5 billion dollars in relief funds for states to distribute among its school districts. Tennessee received 61 million dollars from this bill, including nearly 13 million dollars for Knox County and 2 million dollars for Blount County. This is a good start, but is still leaving many students behind.

Even prior to COVID-19, technology & the internet have rapidly changed education across the world. This pandemic has exposed many of the existing cracks in our system, as many students lack the resources & technology they need for a changing world. No student should have to do their homework in the McDonald’s parking lot – like we have seen across East Tennessee and much of the South.

Whether it’s stable internet access, functional computers, a comfortable space to work, or properly trained teachers — for every child to succeed in a public school, we need to proactively invest in our students futures.

With the money from the CARES Act, Knox County has begun a Chromebook Initiative, making a laptop computer available to every student in Grades K-12. But what will students do in other counties, or when the money runs out?

It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to give students & teachers the tools they need to succeed. That’s why I support fully-funding public education. We need to invest in our students & build 21st century schools.

That’s why in Congress, I would support legislation that:

  • Increases public school technology & training,
  • Invests in affordable internet by expanding broadband & hotspots,
  • Develops rigorous curriculum software for all grade levels,
  • Invests in equipping & developing our teachers for the 21st century, and
  • Technology & devices for take-home use.

East Tennessee needs Congress to act. We need to invest in our students and prepare our teachers & schools for the 21st century. Congress needs to build 21st century schools today.