Obama highlights $90M ed-tech agency

Authorized as Title II, Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act, EETT gives local school districts need-based grants to improve teaching and learning through educational technology, including the professional development needed for teachers to integrate technology effectively into their instruction. The program received $650 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but the continuing resolution to fund fiscal year 2011 that was passed by the House of Representatives and exists in draft form in the Senate would eliminate funding for EETT.

“Today, as President Obama speaks at TechBoston Academy to tout the need for more technology-related innovation in education, there is an effort under way to defund the EETT program,” the four ed-tech groups said in a March 8 statement. “EETT is the only existing authorized education program designed to leverage innovation and technology to get our economy back on track and adequately prepare all of the nation’s children for the competitive 21st-century global economy.”

The groups said they are disappointed that Congress might eliminate this funding despite ed-tech advocates’ efforts to explain how large a role technology plays in K-12 education today.

“Elimination of the program also is the surest way to devalue the billions of dollars invested over the last two years on improving broadband access to K-12 schools and directly undercuts ongoing state and federal efforts to deploy education data systems, implement new college and career-ready standards and assessments, and address the well-documented STEM crisis. Our educators and students deserve better, and we urge Congress to reverse course and fully fund the EETT program,” the groups said.

“Learning technologies are engaging students, personalizing learning, and increasing educational productivity at a time when student expectations are higher than ever in today’s knowledge-based global economy,” said SIIA President Ken Wasch. “The high-tech industry is poised to help further meet these needs with the backing of public policies that [encourage] commercial investment and aim to help the U.S. lead the world in this emerging industry.”

“SIIA supports the Obama administration’s proposal for an ARPA-ED focused on basic, pro-competitive research that advances the learning technology sector in ways that private investment alone may not support,” added Mark Schneiderman, SIIA’s senior director of education policy. “We call on the U.S. Congress to provide the matching research investment, and to also restore funding to the No Child Left Behind’s Enhancing Education through Technology program needed to prepare our education workforce to effectively deploy these learning technologies through the innovation of our traditional school model.”

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