Spread the Word: Ed Tech Matters
With the future—and present—of ed tech funding at risk, SETDA’s Mary Ann Wolf says it’s imperative to inform legislators about the impact of technology on student achievement.
Mary Ann Wolf is executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association. SETDA servesthe educational technology directors for the 50 states, Washington, DC, and American Samoa. One of her many tasksis to share with legislators—and the greater educational community—the positive impact that educational technology has onstudent achievement. Here are some suggestions on how you can do the same.
...Federal funding for EETT at the initial $700-million level.
- Consistent funding for Enhancing Education Through Technologywould enable successful programs to continue, and would allowschools and districts to build upon these programs. It wouldalso permit administrators and teachers to focus their attentionon quality instruction. Unfortunately, EETT money has been cutby 45 percent over the last four years. In its past two budgets,the Bush administration has even proposed eliminating fundingfor the program altogether. Diligent lobbying spared EETT—albeit at a severely reduced level—in 2006. Its survival thistime around hangs in the balance.
...Consistent state funding of technology.
- In 14 states, districts have no funding earmarked specificallyfor technology in schools, apart from the federal EETT funds.This is an obvious problem, in light of the dwindling and possibleelimination of EETT money. In other states, school districtshave outdated hardware and software, and yet the legislaturesare still slashing funding.
...Support from local school boards.
- Local entities may not understand the great impact that federaland state educational technology dollars have on their district’sprofessional development programs, data systems, and studentachievement.
Contact your federal congressional offices monthly.
- Establish regular communication with your senators and representatives(go to www.house.gov to identify your district’s congressionalrep). Give regular updates, with supporting data, on howprograms enabled by federal ed tech funds are improving studentperformance in your district. Provide details, including thenumber of teachers and students impacted and how the programcan leverage additional district or state initiatives. And thankyour legislators for their past support. Invite them to visit aschool within your district. Advocates might also join the Ed TechAction Network (ETAN). This is agrassroots advocacy campaign that supplies regular updatesregarding ed tech legislation.
Educate your state’s education department.
- Inform the superintendent, curriculum leaders, and the Title Ioffice about the technology programs within your state. Demonstratethose programs for state legislators and consider hostinga Technology Day at the state capitol building, allowing teachersand students to display their use of educational technology.Invite state legislators to visit your schools and district technologyconferences to observe the effect that technology has in theclassroom. Provide them with data on the impact these programshave had on student achievement.
Share your successes.
- Publicize the effectiveness of technology programs in yourschool district by sharing success stories with the local media.Visit your local school board meetings regularly and request theopportunity to have students and teachers demonstrate technology-infused programs. Invite school board members to visit yourschools. Once they witness the power of technology firsthand,and see the attendant data, encourage them to share these successeswith state and federal legislators.
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This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.