The Smart Schools Bond Act: How Are You Voting?

New Yorkers heading to the polls today will vote yes or no on a controversial ballot initiative to fund technology in schools. Known as the Smart Schools Bond Act, Proposition 3 would authorize the sale of bonds to generate $2 billion for capital funding across the state. The funds could be used for education technology like interactive whiteboards, computers, tablets, and high-speed broadband or wireless Internet, as well as to build or modernize school facilities.

So how should you vote? Dr. Amy Perry-DelCorvo, CEO of the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education (NYSCATE), and E.J. McMahon, senior fellow for Tax and Budgetary Studies at the Manhattan Institute and director of the Empire Center for New York State Policy, to help you decide.

Representing the yeas is Dr. Perry-DelCorvo. She says that this initiative isn’t just about tablets and personal technology devices; it’s also about the 2,390 schools across the state that have inadequate broadband service. Common Core and college or career readiness standards presume that students have broadband access at school, when many don’t even have it at home.

[On a related note, Leonie Haimson notes in the Gotham Gazette that the initiative would mean an infusion of $780 million into New York City. That would free up a chunk of the city’s technology budget, and direct it to building new schools, thus alleviating overcrowding and creating desperately needed seats.]

Representing the nays is Mr. McMahon. He says that New York City will spend its entire funding allotment on school expansions or improvements, not technology. The city has a higher bond rating than the state, so it doesn’t make sense to use the state’s scare bonding capacity to raise money for the city. This is an inappropriate use of funds when the state has bigger fiscal fish to fry (namely that it will hit it’s bond cap in three years). And if the initiative is truly about broadband, the state could better fund it through regular channels. There was no public push for this initiative; it came solely from the Governor.

How will you vote? Tweet @NoodleEducation and tell us why!

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