President Barack Obama's proposed 2016 budget allots $200 million to revive a program that helps school districts gain a stronger footing in an increasingly digital world.
Under the revamped Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program, states would provide educational technology grants to local model school districts to make sure educators "have the skills and tools to use technology effectively to improve instruction and personalize learning," according to the U.S. Education Department's Office of Educational Technology website.
“States will make competitive subgrants to model districts that have basic technology infrastructure, including a minimum student-to-computer ratio and Internet speed, and that commit to use of evidence-based strategies where possible,” the Office of Educational Technology explains on its site.
These funds could be used to provide coaching to educators on using technology to personalize their lessons, to create virtual networks for teachers so they could share resources and work together on instructional ideas or to expand online learning efforts.
Obama's inclusion of EETT funding in his 2016 proposal would revive the program, which was first launched in 2001 with a $675 million budget. Funding was then reduced each year until EETT was awarded just $100 million in 2010, the last year it was funded, according to SETDA.
The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) issued a statement saying the budgetary move was "an important first step" in strengthening technology infrastructure in schools across the nation.
"Our schools, particularly those in our poorest communities, have fallen hard on the wrong side of the digital divide, and this investment could help them catch up at a critical moment of education reform," said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.
Krueger went on to say the Federal Communication Commission's expansion of its E-rate program for school technology equipment would complement the administration's proposed revival of the EETT program. In July the FCC voted to modernize E-rate with new funding measures and streamline the application process.