Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to fund Enhancing Education Technology (EETT) Grants at $272 million–the same allocation as FY 2006. The pending House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill (as voted out of committee on June 13), however, provides zero funding for the program.
What’s up? Congress originally included EETT as a core provision in NCLB in recognition of technology’s importance in addressing the law’s central goals and requirements and improving student achievement. Education technology plays an integral role in addressing math, science, and other educational gaps that lie at the heart of efforts to upgrade America’s competitiveness.
Funded at close to $700 million in FY 2004, the program has been decimated in recent years. However, federal leadership and investment are needed to enable our educational system to adopt modern methods and means–technology and e-learning–to remain not only effective, but even relevant, in a 21st century marked by innovation, technology, and globalization. As NSBA executive director Anne Bryant commented in February, “No matter if the world is flat or round, the United States must invest in the education of our children in order to produce global leaders. Schools are often the only place that our neediest children get access to technologically advanced learning. This is no time to cut funding for education technology.”
Both the House and Senate bills must still go to their respective floors for a vote, however, action is not anticipated on the controversial bills until after the November election. How politically convenient is that? If a disparity in the amount of funding remains after passage of the bills, a final appropriation for the program will be decided in conference.
NSBA is part of a coalition of nearly 30 education groups and high-tech companies, called the Mission Critical Campaign, that is urging Congress to restore EETT funding to at least its 2005 level of $496 million. Check out eSchoolNews coverage here.