The International Society for Technology in Education is leading a petition drive that it hopes will convince Congress to devote some sort of support toward educational technology professional development across all teachers.
The petition, which has public endorsement from U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), and George Miller (D-Calif.), aims to help PD programs that have struggled to survive since the the Enhancing Education Through Technology federal program, or EETT, was defunded in April of 2011, according to a press release. The release particularly mentions the NEW SLATE initiative in Eastern Montana and the Pathway Project in Nevada as examples.
When EETT was defunded, many of its champions warned its biggest impact would be upon professional development programs, since they were the hardest programs to make match up with other funding streams' criteria.
For example, the $2.4 billion E-Rate program is devoted solely to schools and libraries, but only for subsidies for purchases related to Internet connectivity. Meanwhile, Title I funding could potentially be directed toward ed-tech professional development programs, but only for educators that serve a high number of students from low-income households and thus qualify for Title I funding. (The EETT program is also known as Title II Part D within the current version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.)
Meanwhile, professional development remains a high profile issue within the ed-tech community, which in an informal survey by digital curriculum company Compass Learning, labeled it the biggest challenge facing education today, narrowly ahead of budget concerns.