Policy & Advocacy

Education Leaders Take EETT Message to Capitol Hill

EETT--the sole source of federal funding for education technology--is key to transforming schools and ensuring students have the tools they need for developing 21st century skills. That's the message from state ed tech leaders who took their cause to Washington, DC recently in an effort to renew support for the program, which was targeted for elimination in the Obama administration's 2011 budget proposal.

Several state-level education leaders joined the State Educational Technology Director's Association (SETDA), along with Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA, 34), for panels discussing the "crucial and catalytic role the current Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT/ESEA, Title IID) program plays in state and national school reform and improvement efforts," as SETDA described it.

The 2011 Obama budget proposed eliminating the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) provision in ESEA, slashing federal education technology from $100 million in the 2010 budget to $0 for 2011. (The 2010 budget's $100 million had also been supplemented by an infusion of $650 million through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.)

EETT (Title II, Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) is the program that has provided the sole source of federal funding under ESEA 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."

In past years, under the Bush administration, EETT had been the occasional target of proposed budget cuts, but those cuts had always been reversed, at least partially, by Congress. EETT was never eliminated entirely.

In the 2011 budget, the issue isn't as clear cut as in the past. EETT funds aren't just being eliminated; while EETT would cease to exist under President Obama's plan, technology funding would theoretically be spread out over several programs, though those programs are not technology-specific. The programs all fall under the same subsection of the budget as EETT, a section called ""Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education," and include in the proposed Obama budget:

  • Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy ($450 million);
  • Effective Teaching and Learning: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics ($300 million); and
  • Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well Rounded Education ($265 million).

Although the Obama administration has argued that technology will be infused throughout these and other education programs, education technology advocacy groups have expressed concern over what they see as flat-out cuts to technology funding.

SETDA and other ed tech groups, including the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), have been vocal in their opposition to cuts to technology-specific federal funding.

Last week's Capitol Hill panels were the latest in a series of ongoing efforts to reverse the decision to eliminate EETT.

Speakers included Melinda Maddox, director of technology initiatives in the Alabama Department of Education; Bruce Umpstead, state director for educational technology and data coordination in the Office of Education Improvement and Innovation of the Michigan Department of Education; and Lan Neugent, assistant superintendent in the Virginia Department of Education's Division of Technology, Career & Adult Education. All discussed the ways in which EETT has had a positive impact on the educational systems in their states, including supporting efforts to develop collaborative tools for teachers; supporting distance learning; funding data systems to improve student retention; and providing digital learning resources.

"If we are serious about meeting the ambitious goals that the Obama Administration has set forth in their ESEA Blueprint for Reform--and we are--then we must build state and local capacity to break from the status quo and bring innovations like these to all students," said Douglas Levin, SETDA's executive director, in a statement released Tuesday. "The EETT program is the primary source of support for state and local educational technology leadership and capacity. Elimination of the program--as has been proposed by the Obama administration--would force schools to face 21st century challenges with 20th century tools. We can and must do better."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .