Memo to Congress and the administration:EETT funds are making a difference.
T.H.E.’S THIRD ANNUAL State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) issue provides a direct response to those nonbelievers in the Bush administration, on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, in the form of anecdotal evidence of indispensable, technology-powered programs made possible with funds from the Enhancing Education Through Technology component of the No Child Left Behind Act.
As you probably already know, the administration’s proposed 2007 budget included zero dollars for EETT. Its official explanation for this is that the program is “Not Performing, Results Not Demonstrated,” which according to the White House website “indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.” The unofficial comment from some congressional staffers is that EETT’s job is done, because there is now plenty of technology in our schools.
This misses the point of EETT. Mere access to technology is not the program’s ultimate aim, nor is it enough to have an impact on students. In my days as a bureaucrat, I worked for a wise deputy commissioner who used to say to me, “Look at the words in the law; that is what matters.” So I looked at the words in EETT—eight purposes are expressed, only two of which address access to technology. The other six involve using technology to foster a comprehensive system, technology integration, professional development, distance learning, rigorous evaluation, and parent and family involvement.
EETT names a primary goal and two additional goals. The primary goal is “to improve student academic achievement through the use of technology in elementary schools and secondary schools.” The additional goals involve making all students technologically literate by the end of their eighth-grade year, and establishing research-based instructional methods that can be widely implemented as best practices.
My message to Congress and the administration is that there is an abundance of stories—only a few of which appear in this issue—that reveal the benefits of EETT funding in states and in schools. These successes offer results demonstrated. In addition, $56 million of federally funded research and evaluation is being conducted and is scheduled to be available in 2007; preliminary results from some of the studies are available now. (SETDA works with nine of these projects.) EETT funds are having an unmistakable, positive effect. This is not the time to cut funding; this is the time to restore it to its original level of $700 million and let the states and schools continue their work.
Follow the suggestions offered in Wishlist/Shortlist. If everyone takes the recommended actions, we will have the support we need. Silence on your part will be taken as apathy by members of Congress, state legislatures, and school boards—or worse, as an indication that you agree with the proposed cuts. And that’s not the message we want to convey.
—Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editor-At-Large
Correction: In our May article “The Wonders of Interactive Whiteboards,” we erroneously stated that RM Educational Software “produces much of the educational software that is bundled by companies such as Smart [Technologies]…” We regret the error.
This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.