Coalition Wants $200M For Public School Technology Funding

More than 100 organizations have asked Congress for $200 million to make education technology devices, resources, and professional development available throughout the nation’s school districts.  Katie Bascuas, writer for Associations Now, shares the reasons for this proposition:

  • Technology makes new and varied instruction possible.
  • High-speed connections allow for student collaboration, connection, and creation.
  • Digital learning allows choices from a variety of digital textbooks, online resources and assessments with real-time feedback of student progress.
  • Classes can participate in virtual field trips or even speak to astronauts as they circle the Earth.

Those making this request added that teachers will need professional development in ways to incorporate the new technologies into their classroom instruction techniques.  They also asked that the administration build their request into the 2015 budget.

The White House is asking for $68.6 billion from Congress for the Department of Education for its next budget, of which $200 million would be used in this new initiative for teachers’ professional development.

 [They} point to a 2012 survey from Project Tomorrow that found “one-third of all educators indicated that the lack of sufficient professional development was a major obstacle to implementing technology in the classroom.”

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 26 national organizations and technology companies, along with 95 state organizations from 44 states plus the District of Columbia make up the entities which have spearheaded this initiative, and have asked that the organization Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) administer this program.

They point out that the start of online assessing of students makes it even more important that teachers be up-to-date on their abilities to develop and implement a digital learning curriculum according to PR Web.  Educators also must be trained in incorporating technology into the classroom and personalizing individual instruction by using data from online assessments.

Along with the $200 million, the group wants:

  • An increase to 35% from 25% in the amount of requested funding set aside for increased professional learning. 
  • Inclusion of a 40% set-aside for devices, digital resources and other infrastructure improvement.

The letter sent to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Jerry Morgan (R-Kansas) by the members of the group is impressive, if only for the 5 pages of “signatures” included.  The letter itself  supports the EETT and leveraged broadband investments through the E-Rate program, which provides discounted telecommunications programs to eligible schools and libraries.

The letter asks that EETT’s  program be “altered to establish a trigger that would permit states to allocate funds via competition rather than a formula if the program is funded below $300 million”.

The ISTE is an international organization whose vision is to” help create a world where all learners thrive, achieve, and contribute”.  The ISTE mission reads,  ” As the creator and steward of the definitive education technology standards, ISTE’s mission is to “empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies, and continually improving learning and teaching”.