“To cut all state appropriations for primary education by $728 million (14 percent) while leaving a $750 million rainy-day surplus completely intact is a disservice to our children,” he continued.
Some discretionary federal funds, including the Race to the Top funds, will be distributed based in part on the extent to which a state has increased or decreased its education budget, Duncan warned.
Despite its own budget tightening, Maine is powering on with an expansion of its highly successful Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), a one-to-one laptop program under which all Maine middle school students have had Apple notebook computers since 2002.
The MLTI is expanding to high schools this fall, and the Maine Department of Education has ordered more than 64,000 MacBooks for students in grades 7-12.
“This expansion is helping Maine close the digital divide,” said Jeff Mao, director of learning technology for the Maine Department of Education. “About 2,000 public high school students in Maine attended high schools with laptops for all students this year. Next fall, the number will be 22,000 to 28,000.”
The laptop package includes educational software, professional development, repair and replacement, and technical support. In addition to learning how to use technology, students do online research, write and edit, conduct online simulations, and take online tutorials. The high school expansion is an extension of an existing contract with Apple, which competed for and won both MLTI contracts to date.
“Teachers are helping students achieve Maine’s Learning Results standards, and we are helping teachers leverage the technology and the internet to improve instruction,” Mao said.
“We have seen incredible success with our middle schools showing increased student engagement and achievement with MLTI in place, and we want to bring this same opportunity to our high schools,” said Maine Education Commissioner Sue Gendron, who also is president-elect of the Council of Chief State School Officers.