Published on March 1st, 2021
Memorandum of Concern – Amendments Sought
Re: S3184 Mayer / A5180 Benedetto
In relation to establishing the E-LEARN Act
The above-referenced bill would enact the E-LEARN Act to ensure that all school children have access to high-quality internet for remote learning. Although the intent of the legislation is laudable, the New York State Catholic Conference has serious concerns about the approach taken to accomplish the sponsors’ objectives.
The extensive reliance on remote learning caused by the COVID pandemic has revealed the tremendous disparity in access to high-quality internet among New York’s schools and families. It has become apparent that all schools need to expand their internet capacity to meet today’s needs and that the digital divide among families must be closed. Although the NYS Catholic Conference shares the sponsors’ intentions in addressing this injustice, the state’s Catholic schools are neither positioned to administer internet services for families nor do they have the financial resources necessary to initiate internet service contracts. While it may be necessary for our schools to help gather information from families regarding their access to high-quality internet services, we respectfully urge the sponsors to work with stake holders to develop a more efficient and effective centralized approach to carrying out the purposes of the legislation.
The New York State Catholic Conference does not support passage of the measure in its current form and stands ready to work with the sponsors in developing workable amendments.