Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Is Uncle Sam Leaving Children Behind?

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Three weeks ago, 858 people showed up in Washington for a conference, hosted by the Consortium for School Networking, on the use of technology in K-12 education. The mood at the event? "Pretty somber," reports participant Bruce Wilcox, chief executive of an education technology venture called Project Inkwell.

Weighing on the group: money troubles. For one, concerns simmered about the fate of E-Rate, or the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism. The U.S. government program, funded by fees added to phone bills and devoted to wiring schools to the Internet, has been wracked by charges of fraud and mismanagement.

A more immediate worry was President George W. Bush's proposed education budget for fiscal 2006. The budget, released in February, proposes eliminating a program known as Enhancing Education Through Technology. Created as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, EETT doles out grants for integrating technology into schools. The program received $500 million in fiscal 2005, down from $700 million in 2002.

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