Striking a New Tone

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->Our fourth annual collaboration with SETDA finds that, evenin the face of political peril, ed tech supporters have plentyof reasons to be hopeful.

Geoffrey H. FletcherTHIS MARKS THE fourth year that theState Educational Technology DirectorsAssociation (SETDA) and T.H.E. Journal have partnered to producea special July issue. This edition, however,will read differently from the threethat came before it. Those arrived withan attitude, having been developedunder a cloud of budget cuts andmetaphorical votes of no confidencefrom the Bush administration, whichconsistently has recommended notfunding Title II-D of No Child LeftBehind, Enhancing Education ThroughTechnology (EETT). We tried to show“Results Demonstrated” and prove thattechnology did indeed improve studentachievement and make school districtsmore efficient and effective. We didn’tsave the success stories and bestpracticeanecdotes for our readers; wealso presented them to members ofCongress. Every senatorand representativereceived a copy ofT.H.E.’s previous threeJuly issues.

Mary Ann WolfThis issue strikes a different tone. It provides success stories and best practices, but does so while looking forward with a sense of hope. While the Bush administration again this year recommended zeroing out funding for EETT, both houses of Congress kept a place for technology in the federal budget. In addition, Achievement Through Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN), a bill introduced into Congress this session, seeks to revamp Part D of Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in order to focus funds on professional development and systemic reform, prioritize funding to schools in need of improvement, and require states to assess whether students have attained technological literacy by the eighth grade. Introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Ron Kind (D-WI), the legislation received input from SETDA as well as from the Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the Software & Information Industry Association.

We’ve broadened the themes of this year’s issue, focusing less on specific tools and more on technology’s integral and essential role in transforming schooling, much like the ATTAIN bill intends to do. We have created discrete but integrated sections that spotlight the work states are doing in three critical areas of educational reform. In this day of standards and accountability, both systemic reform and curriculum reform cannot be achieved without the aid of technology. Professional development has now been a featured player in all four of these special issues, reflecting how important it is to invest in the people who provide educational services to students and ensure they have the skills needed to equip students for success in the 21st century.

To borrow a sports axiom, the best defense is a good offense, so the best way to defend ed tech’s future is to continue confronting its opponents with all the positive data that mounts each school year and with each program evaluation. This issue lays out the undeniable impact technology initiatives are having and will be on the desk of every congressperson as surely as we will also be in their ear at every opportunity. It is not merely ed tech’s future we’re guarding, but our students’ as well.

-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director

-Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of SETDA

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.