Spend Wisely...or Else
Thoughtful use of our share of the stimulus package is the
only way to guarantee more ed tech funding in the future.
AS STEVIE WONDER SANG for the first time in 1970, and we heard countless
times during Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency: Signed, sealed,
delivered, I'm yours. I can imagine animated money bags representing the
$650 million in ed tech funding provided for in the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act singing the same tune to the technology directors in
states and districts around the country to whom the cash is headed.
Still, $650 million is less than the $1 billion that was in both the initial
House and Senate versions of the bill. And it is less than the $5 billion that
President Obama's transition team was rumored to have proposed in the
early stages of putting the legislation together.
You may be "deeply disappointed" in the cuts, as the Consortium for
School Networking (CoSN) and the International Society for
Technology in Education (ISTE) said they were in a joint statement.
The two organizations called the money "far short of what is needed
by our students to compete in today's digital world." Well, yes it is. The
consensus among ed tech organizations is that just short of $10 billion
is needed to create technology-rich Title I classrooms alone.
While the CoSN and ISTE response may be good political posturing for
future funding, state and district technology coordinators need to get
ready to distribute and spend this money quickly. Speed is good--
this is an economic stimulus package-- but wisdom is crucial.
Thoughtful spending with a clear eye toward effective implementation
that includes professional development is of the upmost
importance for this money. I advise doing four things:
- Reach out to people in other departments, such as Title I
and special education, to see if they need help planning how
to spend the enormous influx of money they are getting
($13 billion each).
- Coordinate their spending with yours so the
money will go much farther and be much more
- Collect data on how the money is being
spent and what impact it is having on kids,
teachers, the district, and the community.
- Gather stories and observations from
those affected by the money and let our
leaders in Washington know how it is
Our efforts are critical to demonstrating the effectiveness
of infusing technology into education, as
we look to a future that's signed, sealed, though
not yet delivered.
-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial Director
This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2009 issue of THE Journal.