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New fed funding for ed tech nears $1 billion

Nearly $1 billion — $920 million, to be more precise — in new federal funding has been appropriated specifically for education technology since February. Via the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program, ed-tech will receive nearly $270 million more for fiscal year 2009, thanks to the $410 billion omnibus spending measure signed by President Obama on March 11. This latest appropriation is on top of the $650 million designated in February under EETT for FY09 and FY10 as part of the economic stimulus package.

Hilary Goldmann, director of government affairs for the International Society for Technology in Education, noted in a blog entry that this level of EETT funding "for the first time in many years puts the program on an upward funding path."

Overall, federal increases in education spending totaled 7 percent in the omnibus measure compared to the year before, amounting to a $66.5 billion rise.

The 2009 federal budget appropriates $5.36 billion for school technology and other initiatives under a "School Improvement Programs" category, and this includes the EETT funding.

Also included under the School Improvement Programs is $7.5 million for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to administer in the form of national teacher and principal quality activities, as well as $5 million for a school leadership partnership initiative.

Of that $5.36 billion, $3.49 billion will be available as of July 1 and will remain available until Sept. 30, 2010, according to the legislation; and $1.68 billion will be available from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010, for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Special education funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will receive $12.5 billion this fiscal year, a nearly 5-percent increase from the previous year, and that’s in addition to the $12 billion for IDEA included in the stimulus funding for FY09 and FY10.

State grants for the federal Reading First program are zeroed out in the omnibus spending bill, but in all, Title I will receive $15.7 billion this year–that’s in addition to the $10 billion in stimulus funding for FY09 and FY10.

21st-Century Learning Opportunities will receive $1.1 billion from the omnibus legislation, a 4.6-percent increase from last year. Roughly $179 million is set aside for Math and Science Partnerships in the spending measure. Rural education will receive $173 million, and state grants for Improving Teacher Quality amount to $2.9 billion.

Funding for Pell Grants jumps 19.2 percent from 2008, to about $19.4 billion.

In addition to school improvement, funding for education and ed tech also is available under an "Innovation and Improvement" category.

Within this category is $97.2 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund and $43.7 million for the Transition to Teaching program. Charter schools will receive $216 million.

Obama agreed to sign the spending bill, although aides said he was "troubled" by the so-called earmarks in the bill that Republicans and some Democrats have criticized as unworthy "pork-barrel spending." The president spoke about the need for earmark reforms on March 11.

White House officials in recent weeks have dismissed criticism of the earmarks in the bill, saying the omnibus spending measure was a remnant of last year and that the president planned to turn his attention to future spending instead of looking backward.

On March 10, Obama expanded on his ideas for education reform and emphasized the importance of ensuring that U.S. education keeps pace with other nations. In that speech, he called for better early childhood education programs, tougher teaching standards, and increased pay for outstanding educators and desperately needed math and science teachers (see story


U.S. Department of Education: FY2009 Budget Table

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