Hirono's Legislation to Improve Distance and Blended Learning

The Learning Opportunity and Achievement Act (LOAA), which would improve distance and blended learning in our public schools during the coronavirus pandemic will be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the coming weeks.

LOAA combats instructional loss, particularly for at-risk and marginalized students, by providing support for professional development and training programs for teachers, tutoring and academic services, research and best practices, and other initiatives to enhance equity and access for all students. Specifically, the bill provides funding to address instructional loss for at-risk and marginalized students, including low-income students, minority students, children with disabilities, English learners, migratory students, homeless children and youth, and children or youth in foster care.

“Over the past few months, I’ve heard from students, parents, and educators across Hawaii who are doing their best to adjust to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. My own education was fundamental to my success, and this generation of students deserves a quality education—regardless of the challenges the pandemic poses. LOAA provides vital resources so educators can support their students, particularly those who are most at risk for instructional loss. I will continue to advocate for robust funding that supports healthy and safe learning environments for students in Hawaii and across the country,” Senator Hirono said.

“Moving to a virtual learning environment to protect the health and safety of our students, teachers, and support staff has presented new challenges for teachers, students, and their families,” said Senator Booker. “Our bill will invest funds in states and communities to ensure that our students, especially the most vulnerable, are getting the attention they need and our teachers are getting the support they deserve.”

The legislation provides funding for current professional development and training programs, and new grant funding for professional development, training resources and student support services, innovation programs, and learning hubs to support at-risk and Native students. LOAA also requires the U.S. Department of Education, through the Institute of Education Sciences, to conduct research and identify and disseminate best practices for addressing instructional loss due to COVID-19—especially for at-risk and marginalized students.

AFSA applauds Senator Hirono’s introduction of the Learning Opportunity and Achievement Act and plans to work hard to help it become law. The forced pivot to online learning last spring demonstrated clearly the urgent need to ensure that all educators, including principals, vice principals and school leaders, become proficient at using and educating through technology,” said AFSA President Ernest A. Logan. “Senator Hirono’s bill invests deeply in this area and, just as importantly, would mandate that states reserve at least 10% of the $2.25 billion appropriated to provide professional learning opportunities in online education geared specifically to school leaders. This is a bold bill that we embrace strongly.”

LOAA bill text is available here.

Additional details are also available here.