For the first time in many years, real momentum is building to provide federal dollars for educational technology. Add your voice and make your case by sending a letter to your U.S. senators encouraging them to fund educational technology for fiscal year 2015. Strapped for ideas? Use our template below to help tell your digital learning story.
Dear Senator, (Sen. Mark Begich or Sen. Lisa Murkowski)
I am writing today to urge you to support technology professional learning opportunities for educators as well as the acquisition of appropriate technology for students and educators by investing $200 million in FY 2015 for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program.
Technology can open the door to new types and ways of learning that were unimaginable even a few short years ago. With high-speed connectivity, students can collaborate, communicate and create content through blogs, wikis, videos and other forms of project-based learning. Teachers can choose from a wide array of digital textbooks, online resources and assessments that provide real-time feedback on student progress to personalize the learning experience. And entire classrooms can go on virtual field trips and even talk to astronauts at the International Space Station.
However, our educators need ongoing, sustainable and scalable professional learning opportunities to effectively incorporate digital learning into the classroom. They need training to be able to use the data from online assessments to personalize and strengthen instruction to the needs, styles and interests of our students. And educators and students alike require access to a sufficient number of devices and appropriate software to open up truly limitless digital educational possibilities.
There has been no direct federal funding for professional learning opportunities to help educators use technology in their classrooms since the EETT program was defunded in 2011. I believe that, with just a few tweaks, funding for professional learning and educational technology infrastructure in FY 2015 should be administered through the EETT program — a proven formula program that is already on the books.
EETT already prioritizes funding for professional learning, requiring districts to set aside 25 percent of funds received for that purpose. I believe that focus can be sharpened further by increasing the funding requirement for professional learning to a minimum of 35 percent. Additionally, as there is a renewed need for devices and software to accommodate 1:1 initiatives and online assessments, I believe that EETT language should be tweaked to allow districts to set aside a minimum of 40 percent of funds received for their infrastructure needs.
Thank you for considering this request to provide a minimum of $200 million for the EETT program in FY 2015 and to make small but important changes to EETT that will emphasize support for educational technology infrastructure and professional learning.