Obama’s mistake with technology in ed reform
This is the third in a series of occasional posts by faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University, about President Obama's blueprint for rewriting the No Child Left Behind law. The author is Ellen Meier, a professor of computing and education, and co-director of the college's Center for Technology and School Change, which studies the integration of technology in schools.
By Ellen Meier
The Obama administration's "Blueprint for Reform" makes the mistake of relegating technology – a catalyst for all educational reform efforts for the 21st century – to just an “additional, cross-cutting priority.”
The blueprint is President Obama's plan of action for the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the law more commonly known as No Child Left Behind. Regrettably, it eliminates technology as a separately funded program in a move that could seriously undermine the progress made to date with technology integration.
The blueprint effectively consigns technology to a subordinate role in reform, rather than recognizing it as a fundamental requirement for new millennium teaching and learning. By consolidating technology funding, it effectively silences the voices of innovative educators interested in using technology to leverage effective, imaginative approaches to schooling.
Technology is dynamic; the tools change quickly. Technology leaders are needed to focus on educational possibilities. Unless technology is funded as a separate program, it will be relegated to a supporting role, without oversight from educators who are knowledgeable about emerging digital tools and their potential.
This approach is more likely to result in “technologizing” the status quo—integrating technology into existing practices – rather than using technology to create engaging new learning environments.
Previously, technology legislation, (Title II, Part D, “Enhancing Education through Technology” or EETT), provided millions of dollars to New York schools--$22 million in 2009 alone. Funds have been distributed through the state to help teachers use new tools and to rethink classroom opportunities.
As a result, students have become more fluent users of technology, developing essential skills to enhance problem solving and critical thinking. It is important to remember that young people find technology irresistible; their excitement is a powerful motivator to achievement.
Under the proposed consolidation, the support for statewide educational technology coordination is eliminated. Among other activities, statewide coordination provides leadership for equity and access to technology resources.
The blueprint appears to value technology, and notes that it can “improve how schools work, how teachers teach, and how students learn” (p. 41), and yet this grossly understates the catalytic potential of technology to help the U.S. develop more powerful educational models for our students.
Other educational groups such as the Council of Chief State School Officers and the State Educational Technology Directors Association also oppose the elimination of the separate Enhancing Education Through Technology funding in the proposed program consolidation.
I urge the administration and Congress to continue to support a separate technology program to coordinate, integrate and evaluate all of the technology initiatives that flow from the reauthorized No Child Left Behind, and to incorporate the ATTAIN Act, EETT’s proposed successor, into the reauthorization.
This would enhance the role of technology as a catalyst for school improvement, ensure that technology leaders continue to address the digital divide, and invigorate the Blueprint for Reform.
Follow Valerie's blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| May 20, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: Guest Bloggers, Technology | Tags: blueprint for reform, obama and blueprint for reform, obama and mistake, obama and nclb, obamas, teachers college, teachers college at columbia university, technology in education, technology in schools
Save & Share: Previous: Michael Jackson’s unexpected place in academia
Next: California sued over education funding crisis
Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | May 20, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Dogfish1 | May 20, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: prossers7 | May 20, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: plomb424 | May 21, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | May 21, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | May 21, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.