Letter of Support for 2015 Funding for Educational Technology

MACUL, along with many other organizations across the country, has signed the ISTE letter to show support for educational technology funding for 2015. Read the letter in its entirety below:

The undersigned organizations — representing educators, state and local education leaders, and the high-tech industry — urge you to fund education technology at a minimum of $200 million in FY 2015. We believe funding for education technology devices, resources and professional learning should be administered through the Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) program, a proven formula program.  At this critical juncture for education, it is imperative that school districts have both the technology infrastructure — including devices, equipment, software and connectivity — and technology professional development to transition to digital learning and leverage broadband investments made through the E-Rate program. We believe that the existing EETT program, with a few small changes, is the right dissemination mechanism.

Technology can open the door to new types and ways of learning that were not imaginable even a few short years ago. With high-speed connectivity, students can collaborate, communicate and create content through blogs, wikis, videos and other forms of project-based learning; teachers can choose from a wide array of digital textbooks, online resources and assessments that provide real-time feedback of student progress to personalize the learning experience; and entire classrooms can go on virtual field trips and even talk to astronauts at the International Space Station. However, without access to a sufficient number of devices and appropriate software, the limitless digital educational possibilities will be restricted for students and educators.

Furthermore, for digital learning to become a reality nationwide, educators must receive ongoing, sustainable and scalable technology professional learning opportunities. According to a 2012 survey from Project Tomorrow, one-third of all educators indicated that the lack of sufficient professional development was a major obstacle to implementing technology in the classroom. The advent of online assessments makes even more acute the need educators have for  professional learning on how to develop and implement digital learning curriculum, incorporate technology into the classroom and use data from online assessments to personalize and strengthen instruction to the needs, styles, and interests of students.

We submit that a funded and slightly updated EETT would serve as the appropriate vehicle to ensure that digital learning can flourish. This program, unfunded since 2011, already prioritizes funding for professional learning, requiring districts to set aside 25 percent of funds received for that purpose. We believe that focus can be sharpened further, along the lines already proposed in two bills offered to revamp EETT (S. 1087 and HR 521), by increasing the funding requirement for professional learning to a minimum of 35 percent. Additionally, with a renewed need for devices and software to accommodate 1:1 initiatives and online assessments, we also recommend that EETT language be tweaked to allow districts to set aside a minimum of 40 percent of funds received for their infrastructure needs. We believe that the remainder of EETT’s existing structure, including its use of a poverty-based formula for distributions to states, remains sound and is in need of no update. We would recommend, though, that the program be altered to establish a trigger that would permit states to allocate funds via competition rather than formula if the program is funded below $300 million.

Thank you for your consideration of our request to fund EETT at a minimum of $200 million and to make small but important changes to the existing program to emphasize support for education technology infrastructure and professional learning.

For additional information, please contact Hilary Goldmann, senior director for government relations, International Society for Technology in Education at 202-861-7777 x119 or hgoldmann@iste.org .

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