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ISTE's Don Knezek Reflects on His Career

In a briefing this morning with media, Don Knezek sat down to reflect on his past ten years with ISTE and welcome Brian Lewis, who will be taking over the CEO position this fall.

In Knezek's tenure, ISTE has morphed from a place to find trusted information to an organization that also connects educators from around the world, advocates for ed-tech support, and runs one of the biggest ed-tech conferences in the world, said Knezek. With the opening of ISTE's Washington office, it has played a major role in advocating for and shaping policies surrounding education technology, he said.

"We've been able to hang on to E-Rate, which is really important," he said. "But we don't have a lot of dedicated federal funding for technology anymore, and the funding for professional development for teachers has really diminished."

Over the years, there's been a shift from a focus on the technology to what can actually be done with the technology, said Knezek. But while educators have made great strides to improve instruction through technology—by connecting teachers through the Internet, improving school libraries, and making learning social for students—one area needs much more improvement, he said.

"Where we really seriously have failed is creating an accountability system that measures meaningful outcomes," he said. Although some reforms to the accountability system have been helpful, such as collecting specific data about certain subgroups in order to make sure that all students are receiving a good education, the system needs reform, he said.

"Minimum academic skills in math and reading only is not preparing our students [for the future,]" said Knezek. "It's taking the creativity out of teaching."

Brian Lewis, who will be taking over as ISTE's chief executive officer in September after Knezek steps down, emphasized a need for educators to band together to improve education for everyone. "We sometimes circle the wagons and shoot inwards at each other," he said. "We don't have the luxury of being able to do that anymore."

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