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Ed Tech in ESEA?

As you might remember from posts by Katie Ash and former colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo earlier this year, ed-tech advocates were and still are concerned about the lack of a specific federal funding stream marked for ed-tech projects.

But Carmel Martin, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, again insisted Wednesday that the Obama Administration will encourage states and districts to use funds for capacity building, as well as other federal money, for ed-tech initiatives. What the administration won't do, however, is use the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to spell out exactly what those initiatives should be.

"We're really trying to ride that tight rope of encouraging people to use technology for educational programs without becoming overly prescriptive," Martin said at the National Rural Education Technology Summit. "We are looking for innovation across the education sector ... [but] we certainly won't be putting any federal mandates out."

Martin said the strategy is a reaction to what the Obama Administration found as a general weakness of the current ESEA legislation, also known as No Child Left Behind, which is that it too strictly stipulates how school districts should meet target goals. Giving districts more flexibility, she said, should particularly help rural districts that felt trapped by a lack of resources necessary to follow prescriptive guidelines.

In response to an audience question, Martin also said the administration is not going to "throw in the towell" on the reauthorization of ESEA before the end of the year. The statement drew an audible chuckle from the crowd, so take that for what you will.

If something does develop on ESEA, Alyson Klein and Michele McNeil will be the first to let you know on the Politics K-12 blog.

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