NEA: Schools need $53.7 billion in technology

Equipping the nation's public schools with modern technology will cost $53.7

billion, according to a National Education Association report.

The total needed to modernize public schools is $321.9 billion, the

report says, though that figure includes non-technology needs such as building

repairs.

The School Modernization Needs Assessment collected and analyzed data

from research literature, research databases, an annual NEA survey of state

school finance legislation and a questionnaire sent to NEA affiliates in

50 states. However because only three states had exact figures for their

technology needs, the NEA used other data to estimate costs for the other

states.

The report says the number is higher than a previous U.S. General Accounting

Office report (School Facilities: The Condition of America's Schools), which

estimated the total as $112 billion, because the GAO's research did not

have enough data to estimate the need for all 50 states.

The top five states with the most unmet funding for technology represent

more than 40 percent of the total. California represents 20 percent of the

total with $10.9 billion in unmet funding, followed by Texas ($4.2 billion),

New York ($3 billion), Florida ($2.2 billion), and Illinois ($2.1 billion).

The state with the least amount of unmet funding is Wyoming, with $103.5

million.

The report makes four recommendations:

* Some states can use current budget surpluses to fix the problems,

but for a full, long-term solution, a permanent funding structure must be

established.

* The federal government must expand its funding to cover modernization.

* Funding for professional development and technical support are critical

to allowing teachers and administrators to make use of new technologies.

* Each states must assess its schools' needs and draft a plan of action

that includes cost estimates.

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