Federal

Election Notebook

By Erik W. Robelen — July 12, 2000 4 min read

Bush Outlines Plan for Boosting Educational Technology Funding

Gov. George W. Bush of Texas has served up new additions this summer to his growing education platform, outlining initiatives for math, science, and technology education.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president proposed creating a flexible educational technology fund by consolidating $3 billion in money now set aside annually for the federal E-rate program—which provides discounts to schools and libraries on telecommunications services and related wiring projects—and eight Department of Education technology programs.

He also proposed spending $400 million over five years to support research on which methods of educational technology improve student achievement and creating a clearinghouse to provide schools with information on effective technology programs and best practices.

In unveiling the plan at a June 19 event in Vancouver, Wash., Gov. Bush said technology is an important tool but not a panacea.

“We can harness technology to help close the achievement gap, but technology alone cannot make children learn,” he said. “Behind every wire and machine must be a teacher and a student who know how to use that technology to help develop a child’s mind, skills, and character.”

Days later, Mr. Bush issued another proposal to spend $400 million over five years for community technology centers in high-poverty areas.

His idea of combining the E-rate with other technology programs has caused some head scratching in the education community, since the education-rate money does not come out of the federal budget. Rather, the costs are levied on telecommunications companies (and ultimately, their customers) and sent to a special fund overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.

A Bush aide said the new program would be overseen by the Department of Education, but that much of the money would come as it does now from the E-rate’s Universal Service Fund.

The Bush campaign has revealed some “naiveté" with the proposal, suggested Barbara Stein, a senior analyst for the National Education Association, which supports Mr. Bush’s prospective Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore.

“The E-rate is a bipartisan effort” that has been highly successful in helping schools get Internet access, she said. “It’s very dangerous to suggest cutting off the pipe and substituting something else.”

Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for Mr. Gore, said the vice president was committed to making technology available to all students and to ensuring that teachers learn to use it effectively. Mr. Gore was a leading advocate for the creation of the E-rate program.

Noting Gov. Bush’s emphasis on the teachers behind the technology, Mr. Cabrera argued that the vice president has a more comprehensive agenda to improve teacher quality. He pointed to Mr. Gore’s plan to recruit 1 million high-quality teachers. The presumptive Democratic nominee would also require new teachers to pass rigorous assessments and require all teachers to be fully certified by 2004.


Gov. Bush has also outlined plans to spend $2.3 billion over five years on new mathematics and science initiatives.

In a proposal unveiled in Cupertino, Calif., June 20, he called for establishing a Math and Science Partnership Fund of $1 billion to help link states with colleges and universities as a way of strengthening K-12 education in those subjects. He also said the federal government should provide $1 billion for financial incentives for high school students to take advanced college-preparatory courses in math and science. Students who did would receive enhanced Pell Grants for college tuition.

In addition, the governor called for allocating $345 million to increase federal student-loan forgiveness for students who major in science, math, technology, or engineering and commit to teach in a high-need school for at least five years.

Gerald Wheeler, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said he was encouraged by Gov. Bush’s attention to math and science education. But he urged Mr. Bush to also focus on helping current math and science teachers, especially those new to the profession.


A recent poll found that voters were about evenly split over whether Gov. Bush or Vice President Gore would do a better job of improving schools.

However, the poll of 1,225 registered voters found that, among the respondents who viewed education as a top election priority, Mr. Gore led his GOP rival by 48 percent to 35 percent. The national survey, conducted in May by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University, has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

The poll found that respondents were divided over the “trust” factor, depending on the specific issue. For example, more voters trusted Mr. Gore to improve public schools serving poor and disadvantaged students and to provide adequate federal funds for schools. But Mr. Bush was trusted more to address school violence, promote good character and values in schools, and hold schools accountable for improving student achievement.

—Erik W. Robelen

A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2000 edition of Education Week as Election Notebook

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Pitches Plan to Expand Universal Pre-K, Free School Meal Programs, Teacher Training
The president's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan faces strong headwinds as Congress considers other costly administration proposals.
8 min read
President Joe Biden addresses Congress from the House chamber. Behind him are Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud.<br/>
Chip Somodevilla/AP
Federal Education Department Kicks Off Summer Learning Collaborative
The Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative will boost programs for students acutely affected by COVID-19 in 46 states.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 3, 2021.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via TNS
Federal As 100-Day Mark Approaches, Has Biden Met His School Reopening Goal? And What Comes Next?
President Joe Biden faces a self-imposed deadline of having most K-8 schools open for in-person learning by his hundredth day in office.
6 min read
First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., on March 3, 2021.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., in March.
Mandel Ngan/AP
Federal How the Pandemic Is Affecting Schools' Mandated Collection of Key Civil Rights Data
COVID-19 has complicated the work of gathering a vast store of civil rights data about schools that is required by the Education Department.
7 min read
Image of data.
monsitj/iStock/Getty