Resources for Making Your Voice Heard

At the beginning of 2014, ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education) made changes to its voice for advocacy about digital-age policy and the importance of technology in our schools. ETAN, the Ed Tech Action Network, was retired and replaced by the ISTE Advocacy Network.   This new portal is the place to go to access state and federal resources concerning educational technology and to make your voice heard about the importance of robust broadband for ALL schools and strong technology support by policy makers. The new ISTE website also provides opportunities to connect with other educators interested in policy issues through an “ABC’s of Advocacy” workshop.

The ISTE Voices Carry blog, written by Hillary Goldman, is a wonderful resource to not only keep up to date on national issues, but also issues across the country in state legislatures and individual school communities. The Advocacy Toolkit website offers resources to learn how to conduct a meeting with a policymaker or staffer, a template for a one-page policy position letter to send or hand deliver to a policymaker, a template for a press release, and a guideline for a letter to the editor of your local news outlet.

Keeping up with federal and state policy issues related to K-12 educational technology can get lost in the mix of daily news stories and more immediate issues that come up throughout the day. Thankfully, the new ISTE Advocacy Network website has a Public Policy web page that highlights all the current federal House of Representatives and Senate bills and current key policy issues like E-Rate, Common Core State Standards, and Investing in Innovation (i3) Legislation.  Finally, the Public Policy web page has a link to state-by-state profiles about state legislature leadership, state education policy landscape, and recent funding issues.

When one thinks about Effective Instruction, the theme of this edition of the MACUL Journal, often times instruction today is wrapped around the use of a technology like a SMART Board or involves students going online to research a topic. How do we know that technology if being effectively integrated into instruction? Professional development for teachers, technology integrationists, and IT personnel is critical for schools to be able to provide a robust learning experience for kids when technology is integrated within an individual lesson or course design.  Funding for schools to purchase new technology or provide professional development for teachers to learn how to integrate technology is often times tied up in the political trade winds of the current party holding power in the governors office, House of Representatives, or Senate.  One of the best ways to let elected officials know about what is happening in your school district and what is needed in your classroom is to make your voice heard.  The ISTE Advocacy Network and MACUL Advocacy website are here to provide you with the resources to get started.

Resource:

http://www.iste.org/about-iste/advocacy

MACUL Partners with Michigan Radio to Discuss the Digital Divide

On March 12th at Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids, MACUL partnered with Michigan Radio to host a discussion about the digital divide on the radio stations event series, Issues and Ale. Panelists on the show included MACUL President-Elect, Tammy Maginity of Pennfield Public Schools,  Anne Thorpe, a 20-year veteran teacher and Director of REMC-7, and Kim Dabbs, Executive Director of the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology.

Panelists from Issues and Ale event

 

The discussion was a lively debate about how to get kids connected in all schools to the technology they will need to succeed in future careers.  What advantages do students in technology-rich districts have over students in budget-constrained districts that struggle to keep even the basic access to computers available to students? What resources are districts and community organizations providing to low income families that can’t afford a computer or smartphone? How do you close the gap in the digital divide to make sure every student graduates high school being digitally literate and ready for the technology demands of college or the workplace?  Please take the time to listen to this important discussion, hosted by Dustin Dwyer from Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project.