Silicon Valley's Institute of Computer Technology Helps Fight to Restore Funding for High Speed Network for California Schools

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International leader in K-12 computer technology training works with coalition to ensure access and integration in state school system.

The Silicon Valley-based Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) is working with an ad hoc coalition of technology industry trade groups and state education associations to secure renewed funding for the K-12 High Speed Network (http://www.k12hsn.org). The Network is a state program, which provides network connectivity, Internet services, teaching and learning application coordination, and videoconferencing support for California’s K-12 community. The Network reaches 74% of California schools and 89% of school districts. The Network has been running on a $21million budget annually, but the State Legislature has cut all funding this year, which has required the Network to tap unexpended balances to keep the basic connectivity operational for California school agencies. The Network has had to place all “last mile” connectivity projects and content expansion efforts on hold pending funding being provided in the 2006-2007 state budget.

"The K-12 High Speed Network has been the life-blood of connectivity and Internet support services for schools and school districts in California," said Ann Wrixon, Executive Director of ICT. "The loss of ongoing funding for this program would be devastating for our school system: many schools would not be able to afford Internet services at all, while othersd the business of education as expertly and cost-effectively as they have been able. In short, we would be faced with a new world of haves and have-nots throughout the California K-12 community.”

While both Governor Schwarzenegger and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell support funding for the Network, the Legislature chose not to continue to fund the program until a full audit could be completed. Anticipating the possible decline in services during the audit process, ICT has brought together school leaders and technology industry trade representatives from around the state to educate local legislators and other state leaders about the importance of the Network. This immediate crisis has given ICT the timely opportunity to address a broader agenda for technology issues in education for the state of California.

“The continuation of full funding of the Network is our greatest concern at the moment,” said Wixon. “However, there are other areas in technology which are sorely under funded that also require our focused attention. Specifically, we need to connect the Network to the rest of California’s schools and school districts; we need to establish reliable funding for hardware upgrades for our districts; must facilitate the expansion of online learning opportunities to offer a broader curriculum to all of our students; and we must get better at distance learning and professional development to ensure that we have enough qualified teachers to meet the growing demands for technologically challenging curricula.”

About the Institute of Computer Technology:

Founded in 1982 by three Silicon Valley school districts in California, ICT has become an internationally recognized leader in technology integration professional development programs for educators as well as standards-based, student-centered computer science, science, engineering and math curricula. ICT’s programs have been implemented in over 35 countries worldwide and to date more than 3 million educators have participated in ICT-related training courses. For more information, visit http://www.ict.org.

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