Fighting the War on Ed Tech Funding

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In light of this month’s theme, I propose that all of us engage in a little project-based learning. The project I have in mind is convincing members of local school boards, state legislatures, Congress and this administration what we know from research, experience and common sense: As a society, we must guarantee that every student is technologically literate by the time he or she finishes the eighth grade, regardless of the student’s race, ethnicity, gender, family income, geographic location or disability. We must also en-sure that there is ongoing integration of technology into school curricula and instructional strategies so that technology will be fully integrated into the curricula and instruction of the schools by Dec. 31, 2006. This is a simple, relatively measurable and compelling vision.

Why do we need to undertake this project? Two extremely important sources of funding from the federal level for states and local districts - Title II D of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the E-Rate program - were in jeopardy within the last month.
In fact, Title II D took a 28% hit (to the tune of close to $200 million) and the flow of
E-Rate funds was uncorked for this year only on the final day of this congressional session. Without action on our part, there is a danger we could lose the E-Rate program - a primary source of funds for Internet connections for schools and libraries - as well as lose more funding from Title II D, which is a critical source of funding for states and school districts to purchase hardware, infrastructure, content, professional development and technical support.

The Challenges

As a start to the project, we issue the following challenges or assignments:

  • All educators should send a message (a letter, e-mail, fax, video, CD) each month detailing how your students’ education and lives are better as a result of their using technology as an integral part of their educations. Send this to both of your U.S. Senators and to your congressional representative, as well as to your state senators and representatives.

  • All state technology organizations must encourage their members to take up the above challenge. It’s imperative that key members of appropriations and education committees receive this message from educators who have schools in their legislative districts.

    ISTE, SETDA, SIIA, CoSN, numerous private-sector entities, and others in Washington have worked hard on technology’s behalf at the federal and state levels. But that effort, obviously, has not been enough. It is time for those most affected - educators and students - to show our elected representatives how important technology is by demonstrating that in the form of these letters, e-mail, faxes, videos and CDs.

Success Defined

We will know that we have successfully completed our project when every student is technologically literate, and when we have integrated technology throughout all of the curricula and instruction. Now, reread the vision above. It should be a familiar one - it is a quote from Title II D of NCLB, the very section that was cut by close to $200 million.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.

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