It has been a little over a week since President Obama officially submitted his FY2011 budget. Depending on who you speak to, it was the best of times/worst of times for the education sector. Overall, the Administration is seeking to raise the federal commitment to education spending by more than 7 percent. But that increase comes with a new set of priorities, a new grouping of funding streams, and some eliminations of long time, cherished programs. You can see Eduflack’s original thoughts on the budget here.
What does this framework say about teacher effectiveness? The president is beginning to adopt NSDC’s language. The budget request outline a new program called “Excellent Instructional Teams.” Sound familiar? Taking it to the next step, the new program description includes the following statement: “promote collaboration and the development of instructional teams that use data to improve practice.” I count that as a significant victory.
We cannot and must not lose sight of the value and impact of education technology in our classrooms. As ISTE noted in its Top Ten in 2010 just last month, education technology is the lifeblood of lasting school improvement. Working from best and promising practices in the field, we must continue to use technology as the backbone of school improvement. We must ensure technology expertise is infused throughout our schools and classrooms—particularly through programs like EETT—and that we are continuously upgrading educators’ classroom technology skills as a pre-requisite of ‘highly effective’ teaching. We must boost student learning through real data and assessment efforts. And we must work together to leverage education technology as a gateway for college and career readiness so that our K-12 systems can help fulfill the President’s pledge to make the United States tops in the world when it comes to college-completion rates. We cannot and must not deny policymakers and educators the resources they require to provide all students with the globally competitive education they so desperately need.
While there are elements of the President’s proposed budget that are laudable, we remain extremely concerned that the Administration has elected to defund EETT in its FY11 Budget Proposal and urge the Administration and Congress to restore adequate funding for this critical program. Congress and the President included EETT as a core provision of the current ESEA law in recognition of the importance of driving the next generation of innovations in teaching and learning, assessment and continuous improvement, and cost-efficiency in coordination with other federal, state and local school improvement strategies. We fear that years of investments through EETT and the E-Rate, coupled with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investment, may be devalued or lost entirely without adequately funding EETT or a successor program.
Without this federal funding, over 4.4 million children and families will not receive free books or reading en
couragement from RIF programs at nearly 17,000 locations throughout the U.S.
Unless Congress reinstates $25 million in funding for this program, RIF will not be able to distribute 15 million books annually to the nation’s children at greatest risk for academic failure. RIF programs in schools, community centers, hospitals, military bases, and other locations serving children from low-income families, children with disabilities, homeless children, and children without adequate access to libraries. The Inexpensive Book Distribution program is authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (SEC.5451 Inexpensive Book Distribution Program for Reading Motivation) and is not funded through earmarks. It has been funded by Congress and six Administrations without interruption since 1975.