Facing a severe budget shortage, California managed to continue a few of its educational technology programs last year, and officials are hoping to sustain those programs. But they concede that keeping such efforts afloat will be difficult.
The state had received $90 million for technology programs from the federal No Child Left Behind Act for this academic year, but is expecting to see funding from that source cut by nearly $30 million for the 2005-06 school year. Potentially making matters worse for technology initiatives, President Bush wants to eliminate that federal funding entirely.
In addition, state funds for educational technology are probably going to be hard to come by in the near future. The state is still grappling with significant budget shortfalls, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to restructure the state’s funding formula for education. The Republican governor has proposed revising the state’s constitutional minimum-funding guarantee for education, which ensures that at least the same amount of money is spent on education as was allotted for the previous year. That move has drawn sharp opposition from education groups and school leaders.
For the past three years, educational technology programs have received small adjustments for inflation, and the state has already appropriated $16.3 million for such technology for the 2005-06 school year.
California’s educational technology administrator, Barbara E. Thalacker, says that the state added one new program last year, which will evaluate Electronic Learning Assessment Resources, a program that provides tests in English/language arts, social studies, science and mathematics through the state’s online learning resource network.
The state is also continuing a pilot project to help 40 high schools put together online courses.
And California is building a high-speed Internet network for all its K-12 public schools. About 98 percent of districts have access to the Internet, but not every school or classroom does, Thalacker says. The state is hoping to expand that network over the 2005-06 school year, but those plans depend on how much money is available.
A bill before the legislature would remove the high-speed program from the state education department, allowing it to be administered by county education offices, an approach that would give it a more direct line of funding to schools.