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ISTE: Federal Budget Priorities Don't Match Rhetoric

The Obama administration's FY 2013 education budget has rankled at least one education technology group. This week, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) issued a formal statement decrying the continued absence of federal funding targeted specifically to education technology.

ISTE is a technology advocacy and support group for K-12 educators and education leaders with individual memberships in excess of 20,000 professionals. The organization publishes the NETS-T, NETS-S, and NETS-A digital literacy standards for teachers, students, and administrators. It also works to advocate policies to expand the use of technology in schools.

In his criticism of the proposed federal budget, Don Knezek, ISTE's CEO, granted that there are elements of the 2013 budget proposal that are laudable, including the $30 billion dedicated to updating schools and $30 billion dedicated to hiring teachers and other personnel.

"However," he said in a statement released Thursday, "we're disappointed that once again the Administration's rhetoric on digital learning does not match its funding priorities. On February 1, Digital Learning Day, President Obama said, 'By harnessing the power of technology in the classroom, we equip our educators with the tools they need to prepare our next generation of doers and thinkers for the jobs of tomorrow.' Barely two weeks later Obama's FY13 budget fails to provide any direct program funding, such as the Enhancing Education Through Technology, or EETT, program, that would help realize that vision."

EETT (Title II Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA) is the sole source of dedicated federal funding supporting education technologies. It's designed to support state, district, and school efforts to integrate technology into the classroom.

Though the program had survived all attempts at zero-funding under the Bush administration, EETT was eliminated from the federal budget for the first time last year.

"The Obama Administration has embraced the notion that schools are transitioning from print to digital, and that students need digital skills to succeed in college and career, the statement continued. "But this budget doesn't help them get there. The federal government must lead by providing financial support so that students have access to digital tools and resources and teachers have the professional development to effectively integrate them into classroom learning."

ISTE's policy priorities include:

  • Enhancing teacher and administrator effectiveness through professional development centered around technology;
  • Ensuring college and career readiness through new, technology-supported models of instruction and learning; and
  • Universal broadband access at home and at school.

Additional details about the Obama administration's 2013 federal budget proposal can be found on ed.gov. ISTE will be co-hosting a policy summit March 8 in Washington, DC in conjunction with the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). Additional details about that event can be found on CoSN's site.

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/ .