Parents and teachers are generally united in the belief that the United States should spend more money on technology in classrooms, according to the results of an August poll conducted by the LEAD Commission.
The group, which is studying the way technology can be used in classrooms, surveyed 883 parents and 812 public school teachers to determine if there is grassroots support for major investments in classroom technology. The poll did not ask parents and teachers what kind of technology is currently being used in classrooms, or what the nation’s next steps should be to utilize technology in schools.
Over 60 percent of the parents and teachers polled said that the United States is behind the curve when it comes to using technology in the classroom, and over 90 percent of those polled said that technology is, “important to the education of American students today.”
And at a time when many districts are looking for ways to save money and cut costs, the majority of those polled said that classroom funding should be spent on Internet-connected devices rather than on traditional methods of learning, such as textbooks. However, only 18 percent of teachers polled said they are receiving the necessary training to use technology to its fullest potential in their own classrooms
In a press conference on Monday, LEAD Commissioner and Founder Jim Steyer said the results show him that parents and teachers are invested in improving education by utilizing technology. “They know this is critical. They know their kids need it,” Steyer said.
Despite a general consensus, the poll results varied when other factors, such as income and political affiliation, came into play. Teachers at low-income schools and parents who made less than $30,000 were more likely to say that in the next 10 years, the role of technology will become “much more important” in preparing young people for their future. The same subgroups, as well as Democrats and Independents, were also more likely to support additional investments in technology on the local and federal level.
“With less affluence, there is a greater emphasis on doing more,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates. “Parents and teachers recognize what the opportunities are and are making a pretty clear call for school systems and others who affect education policy to make sure those points of potential are realized as we move forward.”
Since taking office, President Obama has prioritized science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The President’s 2012 budget included a proposal for a $90 million investment in the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education (ARPA-ED) that wouldhelp develop digital tutors, online classes, and “compelling” educational software that would rival video games.
In July, the Obama administration announced a plan to spend $1 billion to create a national corps of STEM teachers over the next four years. This announcement followed a goal set by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julias Genachowski in February: to have all students in the nation using digital textbooks by 2017.
The LEAD Commission plans to release a blueprint in November that will use data from this poll, as well as other research, to recommend ways schools can better utilize technology.