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Innovation

Pa. to decide on $200m edtech proposal

he $200 million, three-year program called "Classrooms for the Future" is the brainchild of Gov. Ed Rendell.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on
The Pennsylvania General Asssembly is deciding on a initiatative this month that would put a laptop on many high school students' desks. The $200 million, three-year program called "Classrooms for the Future" is the brainchild of Gov. Ed Rendell, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The initiative would include installing SMARTBoards (interactive white boards), digital cameras and other multimedia technology in core subject classrooms -- English, math, science and social studies -- and push schools across the state into the digital age.

"This transformation can begin as soon as the upcoming 2006-07 school year for 100 high schools," said state Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak.

The initiative comes at a critical time for Pennsylvania's schools, due to the Education Week report gave the state's an edtech grade of C, more than 2 points below the national average on a 100-point scale.

The report showed that eight children, on average, must share an Internet-equipped computer, and Pennsylvania ranked 37th among states for how much teachers use the Internet in classroom instruction.

"Education Week's report highlights the fact that Pennsylvania needs to make strategic investments to better use technology and ensure student achievement," Zahorchak said. "We owe it to our students to allow them to compete with their peers -- both nationally and globally -- which is why Gov. Rendell's proposed 2006-07 education budget includes $20 million for the first year of 'Classrooms for the Future.' "

$200 million for hardware and $6 million more in teacher training would be divided among 100 schools the first year. "When you have 501 districts competing for 100 spots, that money just isn't going to go very far,"George Staudenmaier, assistant superintendent of Burrell School District. A vote is expected by the end of the month,

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