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Baldwin Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort Urging Robust Education Technology Funding in ESEA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and 14 of their Congressional colleagues have sent a letter to House and Senate education leaders urging that a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) maintain strong education technology provisions. 

The bicameral and bipartisan letter, which was addressed to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee, asks ESEA conferees to include robust support in their bill for “education technology and technology-specific educator professional development, preferably through a stand-alone program.”

Read the full letter addressed to conferees here.

“Unfortunately, too many classrooms, especially those that serve traditionally disadvantaged students and those in rural and remote areas, are not equipped with technology that can help children learn and lack high-quality professional development opportunities for educators in using this tool to best serve students.  That is why I was proud to work across party lines to partner with Senator Orrin Hatch to secure the adoption of the Innovative Technology Expands Horizons (I-TECH) Program as part of the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA),” Senator Baldwin said. “I-TECH ensures that educators receive technology-specific professional development and provides schools with resources to invest in education technology that increases student learning.  The use of technology, coupled with quality training, can help to personalize education, inspire lifelong learning, and prepare tomorrow’s workforce.  It is critical that we invest in the tools and training that can make these goals a reality. I urge ECAA conference leaders to include a standalone education technology program, similar to I-TECH, in a final reauthorization package.”  

“Since 2007, I have fought to strengthen the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s education technology provisions through my bill, the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act. I am glad that the conference will deliberate principles that mirror its priorities,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.  “Education technology is critical to preparing low-income and underserved children to compete in the global economy.  That is why we must give teachers and other school officials training and support in using technology to improve student outcomes. By using education technology, teachers can improve the quality of their instruction, give students better and faster feedback, and individualize student coursework. I strongly encourage ESEA conferees to make dedicated education technology programming a robust part of the final bill, and help students realize their full promise.”

“More than ever before, technology plays an essential role in educating our children. Technology-based educational tools offer important new capabilities for teachers and will help provide students with a cutting-edge, 21st century education regardless of geography. I am proud to help lead the fight to ensure strong support for education technology in rural schools is included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Where you live should not have an impact on the quality of education you receive,” said Congressman Loebsack.

“In the Senate, we worked closely to develop I-TECH to ensure that technology in the classroom is coupled with teacher support to give students access to a wide-range of personalized learning opportunities. Technology can greatly improve any child’s classroom experience, and is most effective when combined with an emphasis on teacher development. By intertwining technology and traditional teaching methods, we can tailor each student's educational journey to his or her individual needs and learning style to boost achievement. I urge my colleagues to consider programs that give states the power to produce demonstrable results, and I-TECH does just that,” said Senator Hatch.

“Technology plays a pivotal role in everything we do today, and when it comes to the classroom, students aren’t going to be able to get ahead without knowing how to use technology to their advantage,” Senator King said. “As Committee leaders work to finalize ESEA, I urge them to maintain a strong commitment to education technology so that we can continue to close the digital divide and ensure that students are equipped with the 21st century skills they need to succeed.”

“Digital learning is a vital component of the education model of today,” said Senator Capito.  “If we are going to equip students with the tools necessary to learn, thrive and grow, we must ensure they have access to the Internet and digital education tools both in and outside of the classroom. 

“As Congress considers improvements to the ESEA, we must prioritize education technology and tech-specific teacher training and development. The recent explosion in technological advancement, from faster devices to better education applications and programs, has provided students and educators the potential to learn and retrieve information in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. We need to ensure that the policies in place allow for educators and students to take advantage of these tools to enhance the learning experience inside and outside of the classroom. I hope these important initiatives are incorporated in the final ESEA reauthorization,” said Congressman Welch.

“Ensuring students are prepared to compete in today’s global economy starts by providing all students with the opportunity to learn in a connected environment with access to digital tools, content and services,” said Brian Lewis, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).  “It also means investing in educators and making available new models of professional learning to support effective use of technology. We’re encouraged by this letter's strong bipartisan and bicameral support for digital learning and hope that this showing of solidarity will ensure that a separate educational technology program becomes an integral part of the new ESEA.”

In addition to Senator Baldwin, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, Congressman Loebsack, and Senator Hatch, the letter was signed by Senator Angus S. King Jr. (I-ME), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Congressman David McKinley (R-WV), Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO), Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY), Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA), Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX).