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NYC Tech Programs Coming Under Microscope

Some of the New York City Department of Education's technology initiatives are being put under the microscope by local media outlets in the context of possible teacher layoffs and other fiscal pressures facing the 1.1-million student district.

In Wednesday's New York Times, Sharon Otterman writes about the NYC DOE's plan to increase spending on technology despite cuts in state aid, both in broad efforts to improve connectivity and other technology infrastructure at city schools, and in the more focused Innovation Zone program, which is slated to expand from 80 to 125 schools this year and eventually 400.

An audit of the Innovation Zone was also announced on March 20 by the office of John Liu, the city's comptroller.

A week earlier, the New York Post reported that the School of One adaptive learning middle school math program would not be expanding from three to seven schools in the wake of the departure of the Joel Rose, the program's co-founder and CEO. Rose is leaving to launch his own nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the program's idea beyond the city.

The School of One won a $5 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant based on its expansion plans, but that grant could now be in jeopardy, according to the Post's story.

We'll see whether all this attention is good or bad for the city's technology initiatives.

With the potential elimination of more than 6,000 teaching positions and a $1.3 billion cut in the school construction budget, according to the Times, it's no surprise any increase in spending—including that on technology—would draw criticism and examination. But perhaps surviving it in the nation's largest and most visible district could prove a watershed moment for technology advocates elsewhere.

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