Could schools receive new federal ed-tech funding for the 2016 fiscal year? Some lawmakers hope so.
Aside from E-rate, the school wiring program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, there hasn’t been a dedicated stream of federal funding for school technology since the demise of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program during President Obama’s first term.
But in his FY2016 budget proposal, President Obama is seeking $200 million for a new version of EETT, which would target professional development to help teachers use technology more effectively in their classrooms.
That proposal doesn’t go far enough for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who has introduced a bill to reauthorize EETT with $1 billion in federal funding for FY2016.
Baldwin’s legislation, which is supported by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Angus King, I-Maine, would make funding available for ed-tech devices, software, and professional development, while also supporting the use of data to drive instruction.
Like the original EETT program, Baldwin’s plan would distribute this funding to states, which would pass it along to local school systems by formula.
Both the president’s and Baldwin’s proposals face long odds in a Republican-controlled Congress, as GOP lawmakers have introduced bills of their own intended to reduce the federal role in education.
But with the threat of a presidential veto hanging over any budget bills to cross Obama’s desk, there is a chance that educational technology could see at least some new federal funding in 2016 as lawmakers negotiate a final budget deal later this year.