MN senator proposes model schools to get tech grants

Matching grants between state and businesses an alternative means of funding 'gateway technologies' like digital whiteboards.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

In order to correct the technological inequities in Minnesota classroom, state Sen. Terri Bonoff, hopes to use model school districts to gain matching grants from businesses for technology programs, reports reports the Star Tribune.

At a recent meeting of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Bonoff and business leaders discussed implementing technology in the classroom.

"When I was watching these students in the classroom it was obvious that they were excited," Bonoff said of her visits to technologically enhanced classrooms in Minnetonka.

There is precendent for success since the Minnetonka district passed a 10-year, $30 million technology levy in 2002 for digital white boards and the "clickers" students use to answer questions asked by teachers.

"We've found that Smart Boards are a gateway technology," said Janet Swiecichowski, the district's communications director. "It changes the way teachers teach and encourages them to bring other materials into the classroom."

The matching grant partnership between the state and businesses would allow Minnesota school districts funding without voter-backed technology referendums.

One company, Denver-based Qwest, has donated about $35,000 to west-metro schools for digital white boards. Other companies, such as Cargill and Best Buy, have also provided funding for technology in west-metro schools.

Bonoff said such partnerships are key to ensuring that Minnesota has world-class schools.

"These technology-based programs play a key role in transforming teaching and learning in our schools," Bonoff said.
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