Among budget battles and sequestration, America has lost focus on what is really important – improving its education system but extensive investment in technology, says the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, California's George Miller.
According to Miller such investment "can't wait," and to that end, he has introduced a measure that would allocate additional funding for education technology investment to make up the gap created by the expiration of the Enhancing Education Through Technology and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The new measure – called the Transforming Education Through Technology Act – would set aside $750 million to be for the year 2014 and additional funding over the subsequent four years to allow schools to purchase hardware and software and provide training for administrators and faculty to make use of it in the most effective way.
Included in the total is $500 million in state grants (like EETT) and $250 million dedicated to the "Technology for Tomorrow Fund," a competitive education partnership grant aimed at programs that "improve student achievement, academic growth, and college-and-career readiness through the use of technology and digital learning."
"These are tough economic times," Miller told THE Journal in an interview at the CoSN conference. "We have sequestration. But it's becoming clearer and clearer from more and more economic studies that this investment can't wait, if we really want the results that we need — we need — as a nation from our educational systemsâ¦. We, the federal government, have been standing on the sidelines, and we've got to get back into the game. That's the purpose of this legislation."
Miller's proposal has attracted praise and support from education groups like the National Education Association, the Software & Information Industry Association and State Education Technology Directors Association. The next step would be to line up co-sponsors from across the aisle and Miller has already begun overtures to Republican lawmakers who might be willing to sign on as well.
Speaking this week at the CoSN 2013 Conference, Miller admitted that the current legislative environment makes any additional expenditures a very tough sell, but believed that improving the education system in the country was a high enough priority for both parties that it would be possible to overcome the partisan gridlock that has afflicted Congress.