By guest blogger Michelle R. Davis
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in his recent state-of-the-state address, said school districts need to start focusing a little harder on the role technology plays in education. To help them heighten that focus, Cuomo proposed a $2 billion school technology bond issue to be presented to voters in his state in November.
The goal of the bond issue would be to bring all public schools and classrooms in the state up to at least a minimum level of technology. As it is, there are wide disparities in the levels of technology in public schools in the Empire state.
"There are some schools with sophisticated new computer systems in the first grade," he said in his address. "[But] there are some schools where the most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment is the metal detector that you walk through on the way to the classroom."
Such a large investment in educational technology, Cuomo said, would create many benefits, including opportunities to build more personalized learning experiences for students, expansion of advanced courses via the Internet to a wider array of students, better training for teachers, and improved communication between parents and educators. High-speed broadband, laptops, desktops, tablets, and improved technology infrastructure could all be paid for with the bond issue, if approved by voters, he said.
The fact that the governor of the third most-populous state in the U.S. shined a spotlight on educational technology prompted some happy thoughts from ed-tech groups.
Amy Perry-DelCorvo, the CEO and executive director of the New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education, said ed-tech advocates had been working hard to push for more funding for school technology in the state.
"We have some districts in New York that have phenomenal infrastructure and technology allocated for every student. [But] then we have an awful lot of other schools that do not even have a technology infrastructure, wired or wireless," said Perry-Delcorvo, who is also the chair of the New York chapter of the Consortium for School Networking as well as the state affiliate for the International Society for Technology in Education, both Washington-based organization that advocate better use of technology in schools.
Perry-Delcorvo said Cuomo's push for the $2 billon technology bond dovetails with efforts to set minimum technology standards for schools in the state. Plus, she said the online testing requirements for the Common Core State Standards are prodding schools and districts to upgrade their technologies.
"This is not a panacea," she said of the bond issue, "but it opens the door to further discussion."
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