As you may have heard or read, it is anticipated that the US Congress and some state governments will be considering new funding to support school and district investments to provide continuity of learning in their communities impacted by COVID-19. Lots of people are providing suggestions as to what that new funding should include, anticipated to be as much as $2 billion. The suggestion lists include WiFi hotspots, Chromebooks, tablets, laptops, content filtering, digital content, teacher training and more. All are important and necessary but the real problem is that many school and district leaders have not been given an opportunity to weigh in on what they really need in their local communities and how the new funding will impact continuity of learning in their district and community. These decisions are too important to make based upon a hunch, a guess, an outdated assumption or even the wish list of a lobbyist. Let’s get real about this and listen to the experts on the front lines about what they really need.
As you may already know, at Project Tomorrow our mission is built around listening to the authentic voices of K-12 stakeholders including students, parents, teachers and administrators. Since 2003, over 5.7 million education stakeholders have shared their views with us about new learning models including the use of technology and digital tools to support learning in school and out-of-school. That includes asking students about their at-home access to technology since 2003 and specifically about the Homework Gap since 2015. Through our reports, infographics and briefings, the Speak Up data is used annually to inform education programs, policies and funding at the federal, state and local levels. We are therefore pleased and honored to provide an easy and efficient way for K-12 school and district administrators to be part of these national discussions about new funding. The new Speak Up Planning Survey about Needs for Remote Online Learning is now open now for input from school and district leaders. Administrators can access the survey to give input in two ways:
The overall focus of this short 5-minute survey is the following critical question: What are your infrastructure and organizational needs to support remote online learning with your students? Specific questions ask administrators about:
• Priority needs today for mobile devices, hot spots and out of school access infrastructure
• Priority needs for content, apps, teacher support tools and teacher training to support remote online learning
• Challenges associated with school closures and implementation of remote online learning
• Perception on the skill and comfort of teachers to implement various aspects of remote online learning
• What administrators see as the big takeaways from their experience with remote online learning during this COVID-19 crisis
This new data from school and district administrators will help policymakers understand not only what districts need today but what they will need in the future to ensure a continuity of learning over the summer and into the new school year. So, what are we going to do this critical feedback from administrators?
Step #1: Share the aggregated data with policymakers in Washington DC and in states to inform decisions about new funding to support schools and districts during the COVID-19 crisis. We take seriously our role as the unbiased guardian of these feedback and will ensure that the priority needs of our K-12 leaders are heard loud and clear! We will also analyze the data and report on differences by community type, size of district and other attributes that can ensure that a “one size fits none” situation doesn’t occur.
Step #2: We will provide school and district leaders that share their views with us with a comparative Speak Up data report on the responses from their peers and colleagues in their state and nationwide to see how their needs compare with others. It is our goal that the Speak Up data from this short survey will have a double ROI – helping to ensure that the new funding meets the real needs of schools and districts, and that the comparative data helps enhance local planning and decision-making.
The survey is open to all K-12 school and district administrators. All data collected is kept confidential. We will not share any school or district specific data with any companies, vendors or suppliers. As always, we value our partnership with schools and districts and respect the importance of this data to inform this new potential funding. While we appreciate the need for expediency in supporting K-12 education with new funding, we also believe that it is important the decisions are made based upon the real authentic feedback of our K-12 leaders on the front lines. We encourage district leaders to share this information with their colleagues, both internally and at other districts. And to complete your Speak Up survey today as well! Your voice is critical in this discussion. Thank you for your leadership.
For more information or if you have questions, please contact me directly. Let’s keep this conversation going!
Julie A. Evans, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Project Tomorrow