Push for digital learning passes Georgia Senate

A revamped effort encouraging Georgia’s public schools to go all digital by 2020 passed the Georgia Senate on Tuesday, despite concern some schools wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Senate Bill 89 is not a mandate, although its sponsor, state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, originally wrote it that way. Instead, the bill now says local school boards over the next five years “are strongly encouraged” to purchase digital instructional materials and provide students with laptops, tablets or other wireless devices to read it on. It also encourages the state school board to help pay for that effort, although makes no guarantee of funding.

That led some Democrats to point out the effect of state budget cuts on local systems, as well as the struggle of some parts of the state to emerge from the recession.

Albers has dubbed the bill the “Digital Classroom Act,” and said it was inspired by watching his son struggle to board a school bus with 20 lbs. of books in his backpack. SB 89 passed on a 45-8 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.

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