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SETDA in the News: February Round Up

February may have buried many in the Northeastern part of the United States in snow, but here in Washington, DC, there was lots of action with potential new legislation that will support technology in our schools across the nation. Below are a few highlights of  what’s happened (and is continuing to happen) in and around the Beltway.

EETT 2016

As previously shared, President Obama included a revised version of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program in the 2016 budget request. EETT will help build state capacity to improve instruction and scale up successful initiatives, provide professional learning opportunities for teachers and increased access to digital learning experiences for students. The U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Educational Technology’s website  includes details regarding potential program revisions. In addition, Senator Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) introduced the Enhancing Education through Technology Act in the Senate.

Student Success Act: Local Academic Flexible Grants

The House Education and Workforce Committee approved an amendment to the ESEA reauthorization bill (H.R. 5)  that would create a state administered blended learning competitive grant program. This legislation is found under H.R. 5, Title III Parental Engagement and Local Flexibility, Part B – Local Academic Flexible Grant. The legislation provides grant funds that can be used for planning activities that could include development of new instructional models and/or ongoing professional development. The Senate is working on a bill with similar language.

On February 26, the House passed an amendment proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) that would permit Elementary and Secondary Education Act funding (part of a new block grant called “Local Academic Flexible Grants”) to be used for the creation and distribution of open access textbooks and open educational resources. Please be mindful that H.R. 5 is a large and in some places controversial bill, and the grant program that now includes OER is a very small piece of larger work but this is a great small victory.

Although a vote on the full bill did not take place in February as originally anticipated, ESEA reauthorization efforts are still inching forward in both the House and Senate.

Net Neutrality

On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission officially reclassified broadband Internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. The new “Open Internet Order” will ban paid prioritization, blocking and throttling, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement. The full order was released on March 12.

ED Student Privacy Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education recently released model terms of service guidance  and a training video  aimed at helping schools and districts protect student privacy while using online educational services and applications. The guidance offers examples of terms of service provisions to help school officials identify which online educational services and applications have strong privacy and data security policies and practices. The press release is available here.

In Other News

thSETDA is now a Coalition Partner for the Future Ready Initiative. In addition, multiple SETDA resources are included in the Leadership Network  resources section hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education in conjunction with the Future Ready initiative. Be sure to check for Regional Summits near your state and consider attending and/or encouraging districts in your state to attend.

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