Education budget cuts across the country are going to force schools to downsize in upcoming years; program eliminations, teacher layoffs, and building closures are inevitable. But New York City schools have determined one area of education that can’t afford to take a hit: technology. Despite a $1.3 million cut to the city’s school construction budget over the next three years, “New York City’s Department of Education plans to increase its technology spending, including $542 million next year alone that will primarily pay for wiring and other behind-the-wall upgrades to city schools.”
“If we want our kids to be prepared for life after high school in the 21st century, we need to consider technology a basic element of public education,” John White, a deputy chancellor at the Department of Education said.
Previously, the city worked to ensure that every classroom “had plug-in Internet connections and wireless access set up, an undertaking that cost roughly half a billion dollars over several years.” Now, efforts are being made to incorporate more aspects of online learning into standard curriculum, and also to develop electronic standardized tests. Education officials want mobile computer access for every student to be the norm, rather than just one or two desktop systems per classroom.
Officials envision “entire classrooms of students going online simultaneously, taking Internet-based classes or assessments to measure both their and their teacher’s performance.” Over the past school year, the city already spent $50 million on education technology improvements. The funds were used to build iLearn NYC, an online course-management system, and to pay for content development and training from education providers like Rosetta Stone and Pearson Education.
New York City’s education budget cuts are expected to eliminate 6,100 teaching jobs, 4,600 of which will result in current teacher layoffs. The additional salary expenses saved will provide funding for the city’s technology initiatives, but class sizes are likely to rise as a result.
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