Time to hardwire Florida schools, Senate ed chairman says
The days of all-computerized state testing are fast approaching for Florida schools. The push toward digital textbooks and instructional materials also is moving quickly.
But many schools built more than five years ago lack the infrastructure to make the move. They don't have adequate electrical wiring or internet Wi-Fi capability to handle the load.
The Florida Board of Education has proposed a 2013-14 budget of $441.8 million to outfit schools with internet bandwidth, wireless capacity and other technology tools. There's some talk in Tallahassee that the request will get serious consideration among lawmakers, who already have been asked by Gov. Rick Scott to give all full-time classroom teachers a $2,500 raise.
"We've got to put resources in that area" of technology, said Sen. John Legg, chairman of the Education Policy committee and a member of the Education Appropriations committee. "The Senate proposal we're putting together is pretty aggressive to do that."
He expected a bill to emerge in the next few weeks that will look at a two-year plan to improve schools' computer capabilities. The bill also will include other overarching issues including more closely connecting education standards to college and employment demands.
Legg told the Gradebook that he hoped to keep the discussion tightly focused on "real reform" such as these ideas, with a longer-range impact, and away from politically-tinged diversions
"It's my desire to get these long-term policy initiatives up and out early in session," he said, noting that some heated debate could surround the proposals. "It's my desire not to get distracted."