The Power of The Crowd

More than 1,000 educators signed a petition to urge the US Congress to support technology professional development while at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference in San Diego that took place this past June.

The petition was delivered to Congress by Hillary Goldman, ISTE Director of Government Affairs; and Don Knezek, ISTE CEO. It was written in response to Congress having eliminated funding for the EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) program. ISTE warns that without federal support, many professional development programs focusing on technology will be shut down, making it difficult to prepare children for 21st century careers. ISTE calls on policymakers to provide the investment and leadership necessary to ensure our schools and educators have support needed to provide a world-class education for all students.

The EETT program was a US Department of Education initiative that was included with Title IID. Its goal was to provide school districts, particularly those serving low income students, with the resources necessary to improve teaching and learning through the integration of technology into the classroom. Funds were allocated to states, and states allocated the funds to local districts based on Title 1 rules and/or competitive grants.

In recent years, Michigan used EETT funding to provide programs and resources that have had far-reaching impact on Michigan’s educators and students:

  • MI Champions: a statewide model for professional development that provides the skill set necessary for building based “Technology Integration Champions” at the local level. Over 1850 teachers have participated in collaborative teams and over 100,000 students have benefitted from the MI Champions program.

  • STEM MI Champions: a statewide model for professional development focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Project teams work across disciplines to build project-based learning units. These technology-rich, Universally Designed units challenge students to solve real issues that affect our society. The result: increased engagement and achievement for all students.
  • MI Learning on iTunes U: a gateway to educational audio, video, and PDF files shared by organizations and educators throughout Michigan offered free of charge. These curriculum, leadership and professional development resources can be accessed by computer and mobile devices offering great learning opportunities for students, educators and community – anytime and anywhere!
  • Statewide Curriculum and Tech Director Meeting: An annual gathering of curriculum and technology leaders to stay informed about relevant updates and network with the purpose of merging curriculum and technology initiatives.
  • Student Technology Showcase at the MI Capitol: An event held at the Michigan State Capitol Building to allow lawmakers, business leaders and other citizens to see first-hand how technology is used in classrooms across Michigan. K-12 student teams representing legislative districts from around the state demonstrate best practices of how technology can enhance teaching and learning for the success of Michigan students.

The impact of the loss of EETT funding will no doubt be felt in Michigan schools. These outstanding programs may need to be eliminated or reduced. Something that we can all do to make our voices heard regarding the need to support educational technology by policy makers is to use the Ed Tech Action Network at http://edtechactionnetwork.org. Click on “Act Now to Restore EETT Funding in FY 2013.”

MACUL Advocacy Blog: http://maculadvocacy.wordpress.com/

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Pam Shoemaker, ED.S. is the MACUL President Elect and Advocacy Committee Chairperson. She serves as an Instructional Coach for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District.