As states and districts continue preparing for the upcoming school year, national data reveal the critical need to support educators’ capacity to deliver effective and equitable online learning experiences. For example, a recent survey revealed discrepancies in the quality of teaching available to students from higher-income versus low-income families. AASA further found that 43% of district superintendents cite the lack of teacher technology proficiency as a major barrier to online learning.
Although the CARES Act provided some federal dollars to support educator professional development, experts agree that the current stabilization funds are inadequate to fully support schools, students, educators and families through the COVID-19 global pandemic. Former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. also warned federal policymakers about the implications of not providing new federal aid to schools.
This is why ISTE mobilized educators nationwide to inform members of Congress about why the CARES Act falls short and the need for additional federal funds. The results were heartening.
Educator voices influence policy
The issue of effective edtech use is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. During a June hearing on reopening schools, Senator Tammy Baldwin remarked, “This shift [to online learning] underscored the need to help educators effectively integrate a wide range of technologies … and use them to educate students who may have … specific needs.”
And most recently, the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) bill, introduced by Senators Patty Murray and Chuck Schumer, proposes $175 billion in additional K-12 education stabilization funds, 20% of which must be set aside by school districts to address students’ learning loss, including “providing professional development to educators and other staff on how to effectively implement distance learning.”
How can educators continue advocating?
As members of Congress deliberate on the final package, you can continue informing them about the importance of supporting effective edtech use. On the ISTE advocacy page, you’ll find a number of materials, including a customizable email template, that you can use to quickly send a message to members of Congress. You can use this document to find resources for sharing your message.
Finally, you can also work with your state and district leaders to ensure that available funds are invested in the most essential priorities. Here are some resources to help you get started:
- For district leaders: Providing Effective and Equitable Digital Learning for all Students: Key Considerations for Districts
- For state leaders: Six Questions State Boards Should Ask to Foster Effective Digital Learning