Leaders Tackle Stimulus Package Funding for Education

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Education technology leaders came together at the FETC Virtual Conference & Expo Thursday to provide perspectives on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and how stimulus package funds can be accessed for education.

Panelists included Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA); Kate Kemker, bureau chief for the Bureau of Instruction and Innovation at the Florida Department of Education; and Ann McMullan, executive director of educational technology at Klein Independent School District in Texas.

Each discussed the kinds of programs and technologies suited for federal stimulus package funding. They also tackled some strategies and considerations in applying for funds, one of the most important of which, according to SETDA's Wolf, is ensuring that funding is applied in ways that have a lasting impact. Some other important considerations include ensuring that funds assist with progress toward "rigorous college- and career-ready standards," help establish student data systems, promote teacher effectiveness, and provide support and interventions for low-achieving schools.

The stimulus package, or ARRA, provided $650 million to the Enhancing Education Through Technology program (Title II, Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965)--on top of the $270 that was already part of the regular federal budget. These funds, which reach schools by way of formulas and competitive grants from states, are expected to be released in the fall, although there is a chance that states will have access to the money before then.

Final numbers have not yet been set, but FDOE's Kate Kemker said Florida will use its EETT funds (estimated at about $30 million from the stimulus package alone) to address a number of needs, including professional development, the integration of technology into the curriculum, ensuring access to technology in high-need areas, and ensuring that students meet state technology literacy standards by eighth grade. These areas are addressed by several individual statewide programs and tools, with monitoring through the School Technology Resources Survey, the Inventory of Teacher Technology Skills, and the Student Tool for Technology Literacy. (Kemker discussed these in some detail in her presentation, and further information on each can be found here.)

"So we're really gearing up," Kemker said, "and we're getting ready to see what's going to happen when [the funds] come, and, when we get the guidance, which we should get ... in the next month, then we can be ready to ... work with our districts because I do think this is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference and to show the impact that technology can have in the classroom."

An archived version of the complete presentation by Mary Ann Wolf, Kate Kemker, and Ann McMullan can be viewed at the FETC Virtual Conference & Expo by registering here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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