Susan D. Patrick, the chief adviser on educational technology to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, planned to leave the U.S. Department of Education the end of last week to become the president and chief executive officer of the North American Council for Online Learning.
“I believe it is a great opportunity to be part of the quiet revolution transforming education,” Ms. Patrick said of her decision to join the Alexandria, Va.-based group, which promotes online education. She is scheduled to start her new job in September. Education Department officials said they would begin looking for a new director of the office of educational technology.
Ms. Patrick, 35, was named to the post in March 2004 by then-Secretary Rod Paige. She arrived in Washington as the technology office’s deputy director in October 2002 from a background in higher education and distance learning.
In an interview, she said her greatest accomplishment at the department was crafting the nation’s third educational technology plan. Released in January, it outlines technology’s potential to improve learning in classrooms and online, to help schools make better use of data, and to make schooling more interesting to students and more relevant to the workplaces of the future. (“Ed. Tech. Plan Is Focused on Broad Themes,” Jan. 12, 2005)
“Susan did a great job,” said Melinda G. George, the executive director of the Washington-based State Education Technology Directors Association. “Clearly, the accomplishment of a national educational technology plan is her legacy.”
But the plan—required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001—was also criticized for not defining roles or funding responsibilities for the federal government to support the use of technology in schools.
During Ms. Patrick’s tenure, Congress slashed by 27 percent the $500 billion Enhancing Education Through Technology program, which helps states and districts pursue many of the technology plan’s goals.
And President Bush’s budget proposal for fiscal 2006 called for dropping all funding for the program; education groups have successfully lobbied the House and Senate appropriations committees to restore at least part of the program’s funding in the education spending bills they approved this summer.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week