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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis approved the state budget for fiscal year FY21 Tuesday evening. In doing so, he vetoed $29.4 million in funding for a series of statewide online learning services that students and educators have increasingly relied on during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Affected programs include:
Complete Florida, which aids students with some college credit to finish their degree;
Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative (FALSC), which provides online journal subscriptions, e-books, and other resources for schools across the state; and
FALSC’s Open Florida, which provides training and support for institutions to switch to open educational resources, which can be used for free online.
Florida PIRG Students’ Higher Education Campaign Director Kaitlyn Vitez issued the following statement in response:
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country have had to shut down, evacuate all on-campus students, and move to remote teaching and learning for the remainder of the semester. That transition has been anything but smooth, so faculty have been working with academic support services to create better online classrooms for the summer and fall.
“It is short-sighted and misguided to cut out these essential services as the pandemic continues. There were already huge concerns that students would encounter difficulties staying enrolled and engaged. The apparent end of the statewide college completion program will mean thousands of struggling students won’t get support, and the defunding of FALSC means that students and faculty won’t have access to the journals and course materials they need to complete required readings for their classes.
“Given the skyrocketing infection rates across Florida, the need to work -- and learn -- from home to protect public health has never been greater. Investing in remote learning should be a priority for Florida and its public colleges. Gov. DeSantis should restore funding to these programs immediately to ensure that plans already underway for the fall are not interrupted.”
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
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