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Collaboration and Investment for Success

Transforming U.S. education is no small task, and accomplishing it will take leadership at all levels of our education system – states, districts, schools, and the federal government – as well as partnerships with higher education institutions, private enterprises, and not-for-profit entities.

In the United States education is primarily a state and local responsibility. State and local public education institutions must ensure equitable access to learning experiences for all students and especially students in underserved populations – low-income and minority students, students with disabilities, English language learners, preschool-aged children, and others. States and districts need to build capacity for transformation. The Department of Education has a role in identifying effective strategies and implementation practices; encouraging, promoting, and actively supporting innovation in states and districts; and nurturing collaborations that help states and districts leverage resources so the best ideas can be scaled up.

Building capacity for transformation also will require investment. But we must resolve to spend investment dollars more wisely, with clear expectations about what we expect in terms of learning outcomes and process improvements.

Achievement of the vision set forth in this plan will rely on the broadband initiatives of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which are intended to accelerate deployment of Internet services in unserved, underserved, and rural areas and to strategic institutions that are likely to create jobs or provide significant public benefits. These are the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Rural Development Broadband Program (BOTP) of the Department of Agriculture’s USDA Rural Utility Services (RUS), and a cross-agency National Broadband Plan that is being developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

This plan also draws guidance and inspiration from the report of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Task Force on Cyberlearning, “Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Challenge and Opportunity,” published in June 2008. This plan will be best served if postsecondary education institutions – community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities – partner with K-12 schools to remove barriers to postsecondary education and put plans of their own in place to decrease dropout rates. In addition, postsecondary institutions would be key players in the national R&D efforts recommended in this plan.

Education has long relied on the contributions of organizations in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, and this will not change.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there has never been a more pressing need to transform American education and there will never be a better time to act. In keeping with the appropriate role of the federal government, this National Education Technology Plan is not a prescription but rather a common definition and a five-year action plan that responds to an urgent national priority and a growing understanding of what the United States needs to do to remain competitive in a global economy.

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