State funding for educational technology has slowed to a trickle in Louisiana, a state that earlier had dedicated substantial amounts to such efforts.
As it had done for the 2003-04 school year, Louisiana put no money into the Classroom-based Technology Fund, previously the main source of such aid for school districts, for the 2004-05 school year. In its heyday in 1997, the program received $37 million. That amount steadily slipped. The last time the program received state aid, for the 2002-03 school year, the program got $10 million.
Janet Broussard, the director of educational technology at the Louisiana Department of Education, says she is still hopeful the technology fund might be restored.
“We are constantly pushing for it,” she says. “Every year, we go to bat for it.”
That fund, however, is not the sole source of technology funding in Louisiana. Beyond a range of initiatives the state runs with federal aid, state coffers are also supporting several other programs.
For the current schoolyear, the state is spending nearly $700,000 for an online database of curriculum resources available to all schools.
In addition, an Algebra 1 online program is getting $500,000 in state aid. That program provides students with a fully certified online instructor, so that high school studentscan take the course even if no teachers are certified to teach it at their schools. At the same time, the program offers online professional development for teachers who are not certified Algebra 1 instructors.
Another roughly $500,000 from general state funds is used across all technology initiatives for schools.
Meanwhile, the state is continuing to support the Louisiana Virtual School, with $1.5 million in state money set aside for this academic year. The virtual school, which as of fall 2004 had more than 2,100 students registered, is providing more than 30 courses for students statewide, from foreign-language instruction, to history and civics, to Web-master classes.