Secretary of Education Rod Paige has turned to a young but experienced Pennsylvania official to advise him on the use of technology in education.
John P. Bailey, 29, served as that state’s director of education technology for six years before coming to Washington last May with his boss, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok, now the federal undersecretary of education.
As the new director of the Department of Education’s office of technology and its staff of six, Mr. Bailey said, he will report directly to Mr. Paige and work with other offices to craft technology policies and programs.
In an interview last week, Mr. Bailey said he also planned to help states and school districts directly by providing online resources and “in-depth communications.”
Mr. Bailey vowed to listen hard to the needs of state schools chiefs, district superintendents, and school technology officers, and to be a facilitator.
“It’s almost impossible to accomplish anything in dealing with technology without being a good listener,” he said. “Technology is not a goal in and of itself. You’re always trying to use technology to accomplish something.”
He may also assume a national role as a spokesman on education technology issues, as did Linda G. Roberts, for whom the job was first created during the Clinton administration.
Among state leaders in education technology, Mr. Bailey is admired as both a thinker and a doer, interviews last week suggest.
“He has very good understanding of how a policy, which is something in theory, should be shaped into a program, so it will work,” said Barbara Reeves, the director of instructional technology at the Maryland education department. “His background as a state government person can only be an advantage” at the national level, she said.
Mr. Bailey played a key role in establishing a $200 million Pennsylvania program, called Link-to- Learn, that has helped districts improve their technology infrastructure. He also helped set up a training program to help thousands of local school leaders manage and budget for technology. And he steered the state through the intricacies of the federal E-rate program of telecommunications discounts for schools and libraries.
Mr. Bailey said he favors simplifying the E-rate application process.
“He did a fabulous job [in Pennsylvania],” said Keith R. Krueger, the executive director of the Consortium for School Networking, a Washington-based national organization of school technology officials.
Already, Mr. Bailey has proved himself capable of an insider’s role in Washington, where he helped in the rewriting of the new federal education act, Mr. Krueger said. Mr. Bailey, he said, successfully advocated that some funding in the law stay targeted to technology, rather than being left to the complete discretion of states.
Mr. Bailey said last week that the federal role in education technology includes providing financial help to states and districts. In addition, he said, the federal government should join with states and universities in conducting research on the effectiveness of technology in learning.
The Education Department will start drafting a new national plan for educational technology this year, Mr. Bailey said.
“The process we’re going to use is to make it as inclusive as possible,” he said. “The key is to use this opportunity with the national technology plan to build on efforts of the states and the previous administration.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2002 edition of Education Week as Former Hickok Aide to Direct Ed. Technology for Paige