By Mark Schneiderman, SIIA director of education policy
I am pleased to launch the authors’ blog with this “View from Washington.” While accounting for only about 8% of total K-12 education spending, we know that U.S. Department of Education programs and regulations have a disproportionate impact on the market, including in the area of technology (not even including the E-Rate and other federal programs). How do these federal initiatives work? What is most relevant? What does it mean for your company, products and market?
For starters, my Experts’ Guide article of the same name serves largely as a how-to primer about the programs and organizations that populate the DC Beltway, and how those serving education can best leverage the federal education scene.
Those looking to go beyond the basics are encouraged to participate in SIIA’s annual Ed Tech Government Forum, held in Washington, DC. Our March 2008 event featured leading policy wonks and national education leaders, including from NEA, NGA, IRA, CCSSO and Capitol Hill. Topics covered included Early Childhood, After School, High School Reform, State of the States, NCLB, and Research, among others. If you missed it, you can view session summaries on our website.
Of course, the ETGF included the two most prominent sports in Washington, DC education circles: Who will be the next education president? and (When) Will NCLB be reauthorized?
As an update on the former, representatives from the McCain and Obama campaigns spoke before a room of education publishers and lobbyists last week to outline their education platforms. As expected, this attendee, and apparently others, learned little new. The spokespersons presented candidate positions in a manner that seemed to fit my perception and expectations. With some marginal exceptions, McCain’s positions appeared largely consistent with that of President Bush, while Obama’s camp sought to distance him from the specifics of NCLB programs, and instead talked, in part, around broader themes of change. On technology in education, it seems that a President Obama would be more likely a champion of the investment, while both seem to endorse the vision, though specifics were short.
On the latter – if and when NCLB will be reauthorized – the over/under is 2010. The 2008 legislative window ended months ago in light of election politics, and many pundits view the 2009 agenda as likely too crowded to allow completion early in the next Administration. Until then, with the exception of some rules changes being pushed by Secretary Spellings, the current law will remain the law. Unfortunately, Senator Kennedy’s health status only adds to the uncertainty in light of his critical leadership. SIIA believes we, and our education and industry partners, have set the ground work for an enhanced federal technology agenda moving forward, though we are frustrated that these changes may be years from reality in light of the NCLB limbo.
Finally, SIIA members are encouraged to participate in SIIA’s Education & Workforce Development Policy Committee (join by e-mailing me), review SIIA resources and positions, and taking advantage of SIIA’s expertise by contacting me for company-specific advise and information.