NJBIZ has exclusively learned that several of the state’s top business groups are endorsing a bipartisan bill that was introduced in June by U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11th District.
The Expanding Access to High-Impact Tutoring Act would create grant funding for states to help them implement and administer high-quality tutoring programs in K-12 school districts, while also providing resources for the Department of Education and states to develop a nationwide tutoring workforce.
“As a mother of four, I saw firsthand the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic caused for our nation’s students as they navigated virtual learning, the disruptions in the routines that help them thrive, and the mental health impacts of this public health emergency,” said Sherrill when she introduced the measure in June alongside Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. “The data is clear: our kids are falling behind in the classroom and we must do more to meet the needs of this generation before our entire country falls behind.”
Sherrill’s office notes that individualized, high-dosage tutoring programs have consistently been found to be among the largest impact educational interventions available to students, parents and teachers.
In their support of the legislation, the advocacy organizations stressed the immediate, critical need for federal investment in public education to ensure that any learning loss associated with the pandemic does not have lasting detriments to the Garden State’s economic future as well as the potential of its workforce.
Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the NJ Chamber, said that due to no fault of their own, many students – who are the state and country’s future workers – fell behind significantly during the pandemic.
“The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce applauds Rep. Mikie Sherrill for introducing the Expanding Access to High-Impact Tutoring Act which will provide these impacted students extra instruction and coaching so they can catch up academically and build necessary workforce skills,” said Bracken. “This is especially important as jobs become more complex and require higher degrees of education or vocational training. The success of our economy and position as a global economic leader depends on properly addressing the urgent needs of a whole generation of students who lost out on academic and social opportunities due to the pandemic.”
Michele Siekerka, NJBIA president and CEO, said that education is at the center of talent and workforce development.
“The Expanding Access to High-Impact Tutoring Act demonstrates practical and efficient use of American Rescue Plan resources to execute successful solutions to addressing learning loss due to COVID-19,” said Siekerka. “This plan will offer states a jumpstart investment to develop high-impact tutoring programs that provide the next generation of talent with the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce and beyond.”
Peter Connolly, CEO of NJMEP, said that this is not an issue that should be taken lightly, since children – who are our future leaders, inventors and creators – faced a massive disruption to their education during the pandemic.
“And schools are finding it incredibly difficult to support all the children that need their help to catch up with their current resources,” Connolly explained. “Giving these schools the means to create intensive, high-dosage tutoring programs for their students could have a dramatic impact on our entire country. When our children thrive, our nation thrives. The Expanding Access to High-Impact and its plan to deliver this hands-on support will alter the trajectory of the students’ futures that have been so negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
Connolly pointed out that industries like manufacturing are only becoming more and more complex, requiring advanced skill sets and mathematics knowledge.
“As the industry becomes a more popular career choice because of the incredible career opportunities it offers, we want to make sure students are reach to take on these roles as they progress through their educational journey,” Connolly added.
The measure has 14 bipartisan cosponsors, including three other New Jersey congressional members – Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th District; Rob Menendez, D-8th District; and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th District. It has also been endorsed by a number of teachers and education advocacy organizations, including the National Education Association, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Association of School Administrators, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, New Jersey Tutoring Corps, and others.
“Ensuring opportunities for our students are not hindered in the long-term by COVID is a goal that has bipartisan support,” said Sherrill. “With this legislation, we are putting kids first by providing our schools with the resources they need to enact proven, evidence-based tutoring programs that will help students fill in those gaps.”