Obama Budget Reduces Federal Ed Tech Support

For the first time in two years, EETT isn't on the chopping block in a Presidential budget proposal. But it is on the proverbial shawarma spit, as the budget proposed for 2010 by the Obama administration seeks to shave off $169 million from the 2009 figure, bringing it down to $100 million.

EETT--or "Enhancing Education Through Technology," part of Title II D of the No Child Left Behind Act--has provided the sole source of federal funding under NCLB specifically supporting education technologies. It's designed to support state, district, and school efforts to "integrate technology effectively into [the] classroom with the goal of improving student academic achievement."

Funding for EETT has declined fairly consistently over the years, from $696 million in 2004 down to $267.5 million in FY 2008. In 2009, it was up slightly to $269.9. And then, in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA, also known as the "stimulus package"), it received an infusion of $650 million on top of existing funding.

It seemed, then, that EETT would be fairly safe under the Obama administration's patronage. So it has come as a surprise to some to see the proposed reduction to EETT in the $46.7 billion education budget proposal, released publicly Thursday.

Several education technology advocacy groups released a joint statement today on the budget proposal, including the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

These groups expressed dismay at the proposed cuts and urged Congress to reject them:

"The Obama Administration has highlighted the nation's need to advance rigorous college‐and career‐ready standards and high‐quality assessments; P-20 data systems that foster continuous improvement; reforms that enhance teacher effectiveness; and effective interventions that improve student performance and increase classroom engagement. This CANNOT be done without leadership and expertise in technology.

"We urge Congress to reject the Administration's dramatic cut to the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program (NCLB, Title II, Part D). Instead, we believe that Congress should invest in EETT at levels higher than last year's appropriation of $269 million. The EETT program spurs innovation as well as provides teacher training and expertise in the use of technology to improve student achievement."

According to the rationale published by the United States Department of Education, "The proposed reduction of $169.9 million from the regular 2009 appropriation reflects the significant amount of funds available under the Recovery Act, which provided $650 million for Educational Technology State Grants, that will be available for use through the 2010-2011 school year. The 2010 request would continue the policy of permitting States to use up to 100 percent of their allocations for competitive grants to local educational agencies. Competitive grants are made to high-need districts, or consortia that include such a district, in partnership with an entity having expertise in integrating technology effectively into curricula."

However, SETDA, CoSN, SIIA, and ISTE did not accept this rationale, saying that decreasing funding would halt momentum and endanger a "key component in the equation to accelerate change"--education technology.

"With the historic level of funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it appeared that the Administration was prepared to invest significantly in educational technology, viewing it as an engine of change to modernize our education system. Instead, this cut stalls momentum, ignores demonstrated results and undermines the progress being made in our nation's classrooms through effective uses of technology to engage students, improve teacher quality and individualize instruction for all kids.

"We have seen what works to boost student achievement, and technology is a key component in the equation to accelerate change, but we must have a sustained commitment of leadership and resources. We call on President Obama and the United States Congress to make the sustained commitment of leadership and increased federal investment in FY2010 necessary to fully realize this improvement for all students."

Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, which conducts the annual Speak Up survey, told us this isn't a time for the federal government to be cutting back on investments in education technology. Rather, she said, it's time to step it up.

"For the past 6 years, over 1.3 million K-12 students have shared their authentic, non-spin zone views with us through the Speak Up surveys about technology use in their schools. And not surprisingly, while the students’ dissatisfaction and disappointment with their lack of access to technology resources at school has remained a constant, their aspiration and belief in the potential of these emerging technologies to transform learning has soared," she told us via e-mail. "While only 39 [percent] believe that their school is doing a good job preparing them for the jobs of the future, over 50 [percent] of middle and high school students say that the greater use of technology in their classes will improve student success at their school."

She continued: "Our nation’s students are far ahead of our policymakers and education leaders--they already know that the road to really transforming learning for all students includes leveraging all kinds of new technologies and providing their schools with the appropriate classroom tools, and training for their teachers. With so much at stake, it is imperative that we listen to the ideas of our students whose future is so dependent upon the financial decisions we make today as a nation. This is the absolutely not the time therefore to dial back on technology investments in education, but rather the right time to step forward and 'power up' our schools to provide the kind of real world, technology-infused learning environment our students want, need and deserve."

Evans pointed to some additional telling statistics from the 2009 Speak Up survey. She said:

  • Only 35 percent of parents are satisfied with the amount of technology at their child’s school available for student use;
  • Only 39 percent of students in grades 6 through 12 say that their school is doing a good job preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century;
  • Only about one-third of parents said they think their children's schools are doing a good job of preparing students for the jobs of the 21st century;
  • Forty-one percent of parents said they believe teachers need more training on how to integrate technology into learning; and
  • According to the survey, the No. 1 cited problem facing education leaders today for leveraging technology to improve student achievement is funding.

EETT was not the only program under the Department of Education to be targeted for reduction of elimination. The following table shows other programs in the proposed 2010 budget that would see reductions or eliminations if adopted by Congress.

A Sampling of Reductions to Education Programs in 2010 Obama Budget Proposal
Program 2009 Allocation (in millions) 2010 Request (in millions)
Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies $14,492.4 $12,992.4
What Works and Innovation Fund $650 $100
Educational Technology State Grants (EETT) $269.9 $100
Fund for the Improvement of Education $116 $67.1
Training and Advisory Services (Title IV of the Civil Rights Act) $9.5 $7
Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants $294.8 $0
Even Start $66.5 $0
College Access Challenge Grant Program $66 $0
Mentoring $48.5 $0
Civic Education $33.5 $0
Character Education $11.9 $0
Ready to Teach $10.7 $0
Javits Gifted and Talented Education $7.5 $0
National Institute for Literacy $6.5 $0
Academies for American History and Civics $1.9 $0
Close Up Fellowships $1.9 $0
Foundations for Learning $1 $0

 

In addition to the program cuts, there will also be 10 positions cut from ED's regional offices.

Arne Duncan, secretary of education, explained the overall cuts in a statement released today: "This budget makes tough decisions, investing in the programs that will deliver results in student learning while ending ones that aren't working. It will give educators the resources they need to turn around the schools in the most trouble, and it will build a foundation for success in school for our youngest citizens."

Meanwhile, several programs received large increases in funding, and some entirely new programs have been added, such as the National Teacher Recruitment Campaign, Gulf Coast Recovery Grants, and Early Literacy Grants, among many others. The following table shows a sampling of these.

A Sampling of Increases to Education Programs in 2010 Obama Budget Proposal</
Program 2009 Allocation (in millions) 2010 Request (in millions)
School Improvement Grants (including $30 million for Gulf Coast Recovery Grants) $545.6 $1,545.6
Teacher Incentive Fund (includes $30 million for National Teacher Recruitment Campaign) $97 $517.3
Title I Early Childhood Grants $0 $500
Striving Readers (includes $300 million in new Early Literacy Grants) $35.4 $370.4
Early Learning Challenge Fund $0 $300
Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities National Programs $173 $283.6
Charter Schools Grants $216 $268
Early Reading First $112.5 $162.5
High School Graduation Initiative $0 $50
Special Programs for Migrant Students $34.2 $36.7
School Leadership $19.2 $29.2
Teach for America $0 $15
Promise Neighborhoods $0 $10
Mental Health Integration in Schools $5.9 $6.9

Further information about the 2010 budget proposal can be found on the Department of Education site here. Details on the larger budget can be found on the White House's Office of Management and Budget site here.

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