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Integrating Technology into the Massachusetts Public Schools

Updated: May 29, 2003


Issue:

To meet the workforce needs of the future and to maintain our leadership position in the New Economy, the software and Internet industry needs the public school system to produce graduates who are computer literate and technology-enabled.

Massachusetts Perspective:

In 1997, Massachusetts was 48th in the country in computer connectivity, with one high-speed computer for every 15.6 students. Within several years, Massachusetts moved up to 21st, but because other states put a higher priority on educational technology, Massachusetts' position has since dropped.

A series of three statewide Net Days, spearheaded by Senator Edward Kennedy with the Council as one of the primary organizers, helped to partially or wholly wire about half of the K-12 public schools. Over 15,000 volunteers participated and more than $25 million in products and services were donated to schools over the two-year period in which Net Days were held.

Governmental Activity:
  • In 1997, the first educational technology bond bill, with a 3:1 local matching provision, was passed by the Massachusetts legislature, allocating $30 million or $30/student for technology in the schools.
  • In 1998, $20 million was appropriated for educational technology out of the supplemental budget with $15 million going for professional development and $5 million for Massachusetts Community Network (MCN), which provides high-speed Internet access at low rates for schools and other municipal agencies.
  • In 1999, $10 million more was appropriated to complete the initial funding for the MCN.
  • As part of the FY 2002 budget, the legislature created the Capital Needs Investment Trust Fund, which includes $35 million over a five year period for 3:1 competitive matching grants to local school districts to implement their technology plans, provide training for teachers, and ensure that schools can upgrade their hardware and software.
  • On January 23, 2002, the former Acting Governor submitted a budget for FY2003 that repealed the Trust Fund.
Software Council Position:

The approach taken by the creation of the Capital Needs Investment Trust Fund has the advantage of providing a stable source of funding for educational technology. It will help sustain the momentum necessary to bring Massachusetts schools up to standard in their use of modern technology.

Drawing on analysis from the Consortium for School Networking and from the Department of Education's benchmark standards, a coalition of business, education and labor organizations (BEST) advocating the use of educational technology to enhance teaching and learning in Massachusetts K-12 schools, has calculated that $340 per pupil should be included in the Foundation Budget in order to meet the minimum Total Cost of Ownership requirements for the effective use of educational technology. The Council strongly endorses BEST's recommendation.

Software Council Activity:

The Council has been active on behalf of funding for educational technology for a decade, organizing numerous meetings on this issue with Governors, members of the Legislative leadership, and other Administration officials.

The Council is also a member of BEST, which has been an outstanding and effective advocate, leading the way for continued funding for educational technology.

For more information, see http://best.prospect.com
 

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