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Published in Print: January 12, 2005, as Ed. Tech. Plan Is Focused on Broad Themes

Ed. Tech. Plan Is Focused on Broad Themes

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The nation’s third National Education Technology Plan, released last week by the Department of Education, lays out broad themes reflecting current thinking on applying technology in schools, but it omits assigning specific responsibility for action, especially to the federal government.

It is the first such plan to be produced by the current Bush administration, following two plans that were drawn up in 1996 and 2000, during the Clinton administration.

The new report, which is a one-shot requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act, is being delivered to Congress almost exactly one month after President Bush signed an omnibus spending bill that cut by 28 percent the main federal block grant for the use of technology in schools.

That cut to funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology grant program has alarmed school technology advocates, who have vowed to campaign for restoration of the money for the next fiscal year.

Educators are likely to use the new national technology plan to make their case, because the aims of the federal grant program, which dispensed $692 million to states and districts in fiscal 2004, ending Sept. 30, are consistent with the plan.

“[The plan] is being released to a new Congress, which has a job to do in restoring these cuts,” said Melinda G. George, the executive director of the State Education Technology Directors Association, based in Washington.

‘Where We Need to Go’

The plan’s 28 specific recommendations include support for virtual schools, greater broadband access for schools, and integration of instructional and administrative data systems.

The report does not spell out a federal responsibility for school technology.

“It doesn’t directly call out specific roles for any group,” said Susan D. Patrick, the Education Department’s director of educational technology, whose office crafted the report, using input from students, educators, researchers, and the business community. “It is designed to help [all the groups] focus on where we need to go.”

Ms. Patrick said the report is not a paper exercise. “We are going to follow up specifically on each action step and recommendation,” she promised.

Vol. 24, Issue 18, Page 25

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