Denise Dittrich (MSBA’s Associate Director of Government Relations), MASA Executive Director Gary Amoroso and a group of public school information technology directors stressed the importance of equitable technology funding for Minnesota’s students Tuesday, January 20, at a Senate E-12 Budget Division meeting.
Their message: “Technology is the Conduit to Opportunity.” Dittrich said there is a digital-learning gap and that the range of digital opportunities depends on the funding available to school districts.
“We hope to convince you that it is time to provide equity in funding for technology,” Dittrich told the committee members during her opening remarks. “Without adequate funding for statewide technology innovation in our schools, we are marginalizing some students who will not be prepared for the 21st century workforce.”
Amoroso added: “Technology is not just an option … it is how we teach and how we learn.”
Every presenter called on committee members to increase funding for education technology.
Other hearing highlights:
Josh Swanson (Eden Prairie assistant superintendent): “We need to be ahead of where world is going, Minnesota schools are behind (on technology).” … “Technology is a means of giving students a better chance for success.” … “The digital learning gap exists because of a ZIP code.”
Margaret Anderson Kelliher (Minnesota High Tech Association president): “Seventy-eight percent of households have Internet access at state speed goals, but 37 percent – largely rural – are underserved. This impacts rural education, those underserved schools have a poor connection or no connection.” … “Students are disadvantaged if they don’t learn from a mobile device at home.” … “Disparities in schools have an impact on workforce readiness.” … “By 2020, Minnesota will need 180,000 workers in the STEM field.”
Mark Hulbert (Prime Digital Academy president): “There are not enough talented workers that are sought for high-tech jobs.” … “How can we build a framework to help students prepare for what’s beyond?” … “Having technology in the classroom is critical.” … “Technology is not a panacea — putting technologists in the classroom with technology is very important.”
Marc Johnson (East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative executive director): “Students need high-speed access to view mobile lessons. Some homes don’t have the same access.”
Joel VerDuin (Anoka-Hennepin chief technology and information officer): “At our district, technology has been helpful for kids with special needs and autism. Technology increases their communication and decreases negative behavior.” … “Technology also helps English-language learners.” … “We should have a more consistent experience at school for all students.”
Mark Diehl (Little Falls director of information and technology services): “Technology enhances a student’s learning experience.”
Mark Paulson (North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale information technology director): “Some districts need to pass a technology levy, but not every district can pass levy.”
Mark Garrison (White Bear Lake Area information technology director): “We want to provide as much technology to kids as possible.” … “It makes a big impact when all students have access and teachers have professional development (for technology).” … “This is how we change the opportunity gap.” … “If you want the ‘world’s best workforce,’ we need to put technology in the hands of every student.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Contact your local legislators and tell them: “We need long-term dedicated funding sources for access to technology in our schools.”
Visit http://www.senate.mn/media/media_list.php?ls=89&ver=new&archive_year=2015&category=committee&type=video#header to watch this meeting in the Senate video archives (look for “Finance E-12 Budget Division” under Tuesday, January 20).
Click on the following link to view the group’s “Technology is the Conduit to Opportunity” presentation: SenateHearingPresentation1-20-2015
Visit the http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband for resources at the Office of Broadband Development (at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development).