Supporting technology in education is incredibly important to give students the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven world. This support has to happen far beyond the walls of the classroom or school, and even the boundaries of the district. Advocacy at the state and local levels are a vital component in ensuring that technology in education receives the backing necessary to meet the growing needs of digital age learners.
This advocacy can’t just come from trained lobbyists. The voices of educators working in the field are an invaluable addition to the cause. Last February, as part of the 2017 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Convention & Exposition, 60 educators participated in Educational Technology Day at the Capitol. These educators went to the Texas State Capitol to meet one on one with 51 representatives. In the meetings, they had the opportunity to put a face with a name and get a better understanding of who is representing their interests at the state level.
David Myers, a teacher at Carthage Junior High School, described the event as “eye-opening.” He met with both his repre-sentative and someone from his senator’s office. “People ask you to write letters and phone calls, but I always thought there’s no way that will make any kind of difference,” said Myers. But watching administrative assistants in the representative’s office tallying letters and phone calls on particular bills gave him new appreciation and respect for the process and his role in it. He says he has already written three letters to his representatives since returning home.
Educational Technology Day helped educators like Myers develop more confidence in reaching out to their representatives. During their visits, they also had the chance to exercise their advocacy muscles by lending their support to bills before the Legislature, including some that support technology in education.
Three of these bills concern increasing access to computer science education; two provide weighted funding for districts with more students enrolled
in computer science classes; and the third provides funding to increase the number of teachers certified to teach computer science. Decisions on these bills and others made inside the walls of the Capitol will have far-reaching implications in classrooms throughout the state.
Hearing directly from their constituents – and specifically from educators who are passionate about technology education and who see its results firsthand – has an impact on how lawmakers vote and the support that they lend to different bills.
Even if you can’t visit representatives in your state in person, you can still write or call their offices to offer your support on relevant bills. Do some research, keep abreast of the issues affecting edtech, then look up the representatives in your area and encourage them to stand up for edtech funding.
By advocating for edtech, you’re pursuing one more way to transform education for your students.
Susan Meyer is the communication specialist for TCEA, an ISTE affiliate.
Learn more about how to lend your voice to edtech policy at iste.org/advocacy.