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Funding Disconnect?

Even as school districts nationwide continue to grapple with budget shortfalls and spending cuts, they are seeing a significant jump in federal funds for classroom technology, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For some observers, that resource breakdown is problematic. The technology funds—available to schools through the U.S. Education Department’s Enhancing Education Through Technology Program—can be applied strictly to technology expenses and development. That means they cannot be used to avert teacher layoffs, for example, or to save student after-school programs.

President Obama recently revived the EETT program, which came into existence in 2002 as part of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law — with a $650 million boost for the next two years. States will start to receive that money this week.

While school districts that have switched to high-tech instruction models boast early reports of higher achievement across the board—from test scores to graduation rates and college attendance—some remain skeptical whether this allocation of funds matches schools’ current needs.

“There’s a disconnect,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union. “People are facing huge cuts in their core programs. Technology can’t substitute for music or art programs.”

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