One of the most ambitious school technology efforts in the country is being proposed far from the mainland United States, as Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell is calling for the establishment of a one student, one computing device plan to reach all of his state's far-flung school districts.
If that proposal were to make it into law, it would presumably bring a wave of technological investment to a state whose districts are in many ways defined by their remoteness. Many of the state's school districts are rural and extremely remote—in some cases, they're accessible only by plane.
Parnell, a Republican, put aside $5.9 million in his budget for fiscal 2014 to pay for the program, among other digital efforts, though that proposal would still need approval from the state's GOP-controlled legislature to take hold.
If the Alaska plan went into effect, the state would become only the second in the country with a 1-to-1 computing program, joining Maine, according to the State Educational Technology Directors Association. Another state, Hawaii, has announced its intention to implement a similar plan in the future.
So far, legislators in the state's House of Representatives have not proposed funding the 1-to-1 computing program, said Eric Fry, a spokesman for the Alaska department of education and early development. The state Senate approved less than the governor's requested amount. A conference committee is expected to begin meeting during the coming week, he said.
The governor's plan calls for putting $3.9 million toward the program in the first year, which would pay for giving digital devices to 32,000 students, and giving 2,000 teachers digital instructional tools.
Over four years, all the state's 129,000 students, who are in 8,000 classrooms, would receive digital devices.
If the money for the program came through, the state would most likely provide a grant or contract to the Association of Alaska School Boards, which has experience with laptop computer efforts, to operate the program, Fry said.