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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Advocating for Technology Integration in Schools

In the weeks leading up to the presidential election, the Obama campaign talked the talk, proving that educational technology was on its radar. But if you've been listening, the silence on technology integration in our schools has since become deafening.

You know when you own a house and the pipes are old and they start to break down and rust? You'd invest in copper pipes, right? Well technology is the copper pipes of education. It might take money to invest in the future of the home, but it's what you have to do if you're looking toward the future. Years down the line, you want your home to have some value and to be able to compete in a future real estate market. OK, the metaphor went a little haywire, but you get the idea.

Just to give you a little background, the federal EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) program dictated that a fraction of the education monies from Washington was to go specifically toward technology.

But in a world of words such as billions and trillions, EETT could only boast millions. In fact, 2004 saw only $692 million dedicated to technology. Under the Bush administration, as of 2008, that number was bled down to $276 million.

But this bloodletting of our students' futures led to many grassroots battles from the classroom trenches. And, as a result, the new recovery package for 2010 is slated to bring the EETT back up to $650 million.

Don't celebrate. Sure, it is double what it had become, but we shouldn't cheer for having brought it back up to a still-inadequate level.

If you believe that technology integration must be included in the future of education, you can no longer "just be a teacher." You are now a member of a special-interest group. And that group must become more powerful, using our abilities -- and, incidentally, the standards -- to write persuasively, blog honestly, petition relentlessly, and not give in to those who believe technology is a fad or an ineffective strategy that merely claims to raise student achievement.

So here's an easy method of lobbying I recently learned about:

  • Go to ETAN (EdTechActionNetwork).
  • Type in your ZIP code, and a list of your local or state representatives will appear.
  • Scroll down to Take Action and sign the letter. Better yet, change the subject line, or any of the text that you choose, and personalize your letter.
  • Select whether you want it sent via email or snail mail, and submit. You also can click on My New Widget in My Sidebar.

ETAN takes care of the rest. All you've done is made sure your opinion is being counted. Join, and you'll get an email reminder about various issues as they arise in Washington.

Help inundate the representatives who work for us with your opinions so they'll raise up technology in schools from the bottom of the priority list to the top. They may not read all the opinions, but they do count. Remember, our representatives want to make their constituents happy. Show them just how unhappy some Web-surfing teachers can be. Politicians speak the language of the number of complaints they receive. Let your opinion be counted.

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