FY11 budget plan folds ed tech into new program

EETT received $269.9 million in FY09 and $100 million in FY10, although the program received an addition $650 million spread across both funding years as part of the economic stimulus package.

A Jan. 11 letter from several ed-tech advocacy groups, including the Consortium for School Networking, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and the International Society for Technology in Education, urged Obama to boost EETT funding.

“We greatly appreciate your recognition of the program’s importance to education reform, including your support and enactment of $650 million for EETT in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the letter stated. “However, coupled with a disappointing FY10 investment of only $100 million, the progress being gained through national, state, and local leadership in innovation through technology is at risk of being lost. We cannot afford to lose education reform momentum and urge you to fund EETT at a minimum of $500 million in your FY11 budget.”

Both Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have said repeatedly that technology is an integral part of student and school success.

Using technology to improve student outcomes is a key priority in both the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation (I3) competitive grant programs introduced by ED last year.

Both programs were created with funding from the stimulus package, and both would receive additional funding in FY11 to sustain their efforts under Obama’s budget proposal.

The president has proposed an additional $1.35 billion for the Race to the Top fund, which rewards states for their efforts to adopt the administration’s priorities for education reform, which include reducing the high school dropout rate, turning around failing schools, improving teacher quality, and using data to improve instruction. The stimulus package directed $4.35 billion to this fund in FY10.

The I3 program, which funds the development or scaling up of promising educational practices, would receive $500 million in funding under the president’s request; it received $650 million in the stimulus package.

Overall, ED would see a 7.5-percent spending increase under Obama’s budget proposal, which asks for $49.7 billion in education funding. That would be a $3.5 billion increase from FY10.

The proposal reflects the president’s vision for how he would like to see No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the nation’s federal education law, reshaped. Reauthorization of NCLB is a few years overdue, and the administration is pushing to have Congress rewrite the law this year.

Included in Obama’s budget plan is a $3 billion increase in competitive funding. That figure includes $1.35 billion to continue Race to the Top, $500 million for the I3 Fund, additional money for school turnarounds, charter schools, school safety, and programs focused on preparing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers.

Laura Ascione

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