Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill Wednesday to boost student achievement through technology with the goal of improving educational outcomes and helping teens be college and career ready.
The legislation, called Enhancing Education Through Technology Education, would reauthorize a program created in 2002 — with major upgrades.
The bill would support teachers, principals and district leaders to use technology and digital learning applications to revamp their curricula. It would also encourage school leaders to build more modern technology infrastructures that could support growing wireless and wired networks, and provide more focused and intensive teacher training.
“Across the globe, students today experience a world that is more connected than ever,” Baldwin, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Yet in the United States, many classrooms, especially those in rural and remote areas, lack the rich technology that can connect them with the outside world.”
She added that the bill would “level the playing field and give schools the resources, infrastructure, hardware, software and human capacity needed to prepare students for the 21st century global economy.”
The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has been hammering out negotiations to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind.
Baldwin’s bill, if approved by the committee, would be folded into the final version.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been visiting schools across the country, pressing Congress to keep funding streams in Obama administration programs like the Investing in Innovation grant competition and to drop more controversial aspects like ramped up standardized testing during the overhaul of NCLB.
Education and technology leaders praised Baldwin’s bill.
“With dedicated, sustained federal support for technology and related professional development, our schools will be better equipped to meet the demands of modern teaching and learning,” Keith Krueger, head of the Consortium for School Networking, said in a statement. “In turn, disadvantaged students will benefit from the innovative instructional opportunities they need to prepare for postsecondary success and career advancement.”
Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, also hailed the bill and urged the Senate to approve the legislation.
“Building educators’ capacity to use technology to prepare students for both college and careers must be a national priority, and greater federal support is needed to assist states’ transition to online assessments,” Amundson said in a statement.
Baldwin, along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., had also introduced a separate bill that would give states federal funds to take stock of their assessment systems and root out redundant testing.