Education Technology K-12 Voucher ProgramIntroductionThe California Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program is a program that came as an outcome of the settlement agreed upon after an antitrust lawsuit by the Californian community comprising of business people and schools against Microsoft Corporation. The net amount of the claim and the agreed settlement is around $1.1 billion.
The education technology K-12 voucher program is meant to assist schools and students in California to improve the computer technology status. The $1.1 billion dollars is to be distributed to any school that qualified for the program in order for the school to acquire components such as computers, software programs and other peripheral devices to either upgrade their systems or put up new and modern technology systems. (McCullagh, 2007) PurposeThe education technology K-12 voucher program is meant to improve and modernize current technology infrastructure and training in California K-12 schools.
It was found out that California schools are among the lowest in the nation in respect to computers to student ratios. According to data from the California education department, more than 60% computers in California schools are more than 4 years old. Currently, only 10% of the computers are below one year old. In the current world when internet is becoming a viable tool of learning and teaching it’s apparent that only 10% of computers being used are going to able to be connected to the internet or are connected.
With the technology advancement that is going on our teachers badly require technology training to catch up with the advancement, unfortunately, 73% of these teachers have only been trained for less than 20 hours in technology.SourceThe source of the funds came from Microsoft Corporation as a settlement of a law suit that filled against it by California and other states in 1999.the lawsuit which alleged that Microsoft had gone against antitrust laws in California concerning the Windows Operation System. The case was settled ion 2003 and Microsoft agreed to pay up to $1.
1n billion, although the corporation may pay as less as $367m to public schools in California. (McCullagh, 2007)HistoryCalifornia has continued remain behind in each technology category in the nation, even though it knows technology is very important. The state seems to lack behind because it also have a high rate of poverty. It is through this background that it is important that the education technology voucher program assist in developing the technology of the state.
FundFrom the settlement of the lawsuit, $367 million dollars is available to California schools in terms of technology vouchers. The California department of education (CDE) has designed the ways of disbursing the money. The CDE will certify the schools which receive the vouchers and scrutinize the program by certifying and by visiting the site.Budget Constraints or LimitationsThe program has put up a number of measures to control the allocations, for a school to qualify for the technology K-12 voucher, it has to have 40% or over students who are eligible for free/ reduced lunches.
The district in which the school is should have approved technology plan by the state. If the school meets all the conditions set by the program, then it can allocated the voucher. Some schools apply online, if the application is applied online the California department of education will have to review the application and make recommendations it may reject or approve the application. When an application is successful, the settlement claims administrator will notify the school by sending them a notification letter together with a balance sheet from the district and a voucher redemption form.
The voucher comes in two types, general purpose voucher and specific category software voucher. If a school gets a General Purpose Voucher then half of the money must be spend on hardware and software products.These hardware products can be; micro-computers, laptops or tablet computer to be used by any specified operating system, peripheral devices which includes monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mouse etc. also the hardware devices can be networking cables, servers and routes required for setting up a network, or other special hardware devices to be used by those students who have special needs.
But if the school gets the category software voucher, then half of the amount received must be spend on specific types of computer software. The specific types of software offered include operating systems, word processing spreadsheets, productivity suite and others. Any public school from kindergarten to grade twelve, and schools directly funded by charters are eligible for the grant. Products from the program cannot be used to benefit other schools which are not eligible for the program, although at some situations a server may be used by a school which is not eligible.
Those schools that are not among public schools can apply directly to program and their applications considered. (McCullagh, 2007) Dollar Amount of ProgramThe amount of the fund according to the agreement is $1.1 billions. The California Department of Education will control and monitor all amounts of money given to schools.
The department has put in place mechanisms to disburse all the monies in the voucher program according to the settlement agreement.Size of Fund Compared To Other Funds Used By the DistrictIn comparison to other funds, this fund provides small amounts to schools. It is approximated that every high school will be getting roughly $120,000 to $150, 00. If compared to other grants from other programs these mounts seem to be small.
Though, the grants can be larger, compared to other grants which offer smaller amounts.Needs of Students Served By the Program/GrantThe education technology k-12 voucher program is meant to serve any school in California which requires technology be it hardware or software, and infrastructure together with technology training. This will ensure the needs of students are addressed in these schools which receive the grant, which had no or had slight technology required by the students.Reports Required Evaluating the ProgramIt will be the duty of the California department of education to supervise every voucher disburse to schools and make any redemption if they occur.
According to the agreement of the program the California department of education will also design the process in which to determine the providers who will be supplying the information technology equipments and also provide the support services. These providers will be known as “approved providers” In the same line it will make all reports required in evaluating the education technology k-12 voucher program. As per the agreement they will be a settlement claims administrator who will be chosen by the court who will be in charge of issuing, going through, and redeeming the vouchers brought by those schools which have been certified to receive the voucher.A Personal Assessment of the Programs/Grants ValueIn my personal view, I highly believe that the voucher program will assist every school which qualifies for this program.
Looking at the high schools that I had a chance to work for, it is clear that the need technology upgrading. In most situations students lack computers at home and thus can not even access the internet. Though, the gap in technology is reducing many low income schools still possess computers which are over 5 years old or even lack any computers completely. It is important for schools to have computers which part from doing the normal word processing is able also to be used on the internet.
So, as this program is being put in place it is going to help many students who lack computers at their homes.ConclusionIt is true that the Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program is going to go along way in improving the technology level in schools in California. As many students lack computers at home or cannot access the internet, the equipping of them in school will greatly improve the studies of these students. It is apparent that more programs need to implemented to assist improve the education level in California as it is among the states with a low level of education technology.
The program also should train teachers has it has been noted that most of these teachers badly require technology training as most have them don’t have any latest training. Lastly the authorities should came up with other ways to fund the program when the fund’s program diminishes so has to continue improving the education technology as there will always be technology advancement. ReferencesMcCullagh, D. (2007): The California Education Technology K-12 Voucher Program, Retrieved from http://news.zdnet.co.uk/, on July 19, 2007