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May 28, 2020

With Maine Schools Relying on Distance Education, King Celebrates 18 Years of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative

BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) provided closing remarks at the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Virtual Student Conference. During his talk, Senator King reflected on the 2002 establishment of MLTI during his time as Governor, highlighted Maine’s leadership in helping students access technology to enhance their learning, and congratulated all involved with the continued growth and success of the program. A groundbreaking initiative during his second term, MLTI provides students in grades 7 through 12 with a personal laptop to make sure they are technologically literate, and has helped hundreds of Maine schools access the technology and support they need to best educate their students.  

“When we launched MLTI , there was a lot of uncertainty – could we afford to give a laptop to every 7th and 8th grade student in Maine? Today, in the light of a rapidly digital world and in the face of a global pandemic that’s drastically changed our education system, it’s clear that the cost of inaction would have been much greater,” said Senator King. “By empowering students and giving them the technology to advance their education, we’re making an investment in our future leaders – and that investment is paying off. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s ever had anything to do with the MLTI – from the folks who were there at the beginning, to those who’ve picked up the torch and carried it forward, to the students who made the most of this new, crazy idea and made the rest of us look smart. This program has always been a collaboration between so many bright, motivated, and forward-thinking people, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to grow.”

“We are so excited to be able to offer the MLTI student conference virtually this year,” said Beth Lambert, Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning, Maine Department of Education. “It seems only fitting that this innovative initiative, which began 18 years ago to meet the needs of the rapidly changing world, continues to lead the way by adapting and changing to the needs of our current environment.” 

As the coronavirus pandemic has caused cancellations of schools across the nation, Senator King has pushed to improve distance learning. In April, Senator King joined a group of his colleagues in a letter urging funding to close the homework gap, and ensure that all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity to continue pursuing their education during distance learning. In March, Senator King sent a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet service providers (ISPs), calling on the companies to take steps to accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services; in response to Senator King’s letter, several major ISPs took action to better support these remote technologies. Throughout the pandemic, Senator King has engaged with Maine people from all walks of life and helpful organizations to address questions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and identify remaining work to be done. Last week he held a tele-town hall, which was open to all Maine people, to listen and respond to questions about coronavirus response efforts. Since the Senate passed the CARES Act, he has participated in teleconferences and phone calls with: 

·       Maine educators, including the 16 Maine 2020 County Teachers of the Year, Maine Jump$tart Coalition’s two Finance Educators of the Year and civics and history teachers from schools across Maine.

·       Maine business leaders, including members of the Maine State Chamber of CommercePenobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, the New England Council120 of Portland’s small business owners and 500 Maine employees of Sun Life.

·       Maine nonprofits including the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) and YMCA Youth Advocates from Maine.

·       Maine healthcare advocates, such as Protect our Care.

·       Maine seniors in a call hosted by AARP Maine

·       Maine democracy-focused organizations, such as the Maine League of Women Voters.

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