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Bills seek to improve tech in schools

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

Two bills that were signed into law last week, and co-sponsored in the N.C. House by Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, hope to improve technology in public schools and expand digital learning opportunities.

Saine, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Information Technology and is a member of the Digital Learning Environments in Public Schools Committee, told the Times-News Tuesday that the bills are part of a four-part initiative receiving broad-based, bipartisan support.

As one of four primary sponsors, Saine said a collaborative effort was behind the measures, some of the first signed by Gov. Pat McCrory since taking office.

“It was a proud day,” Saine added, calling the signed bills “pretty neat victories.”

The legislation will specifically direct the State Board of Education to develop and implement digital teaching and learning standards for teachers and school administrators while signaling North Carolina’s intent to transition from funding textbooks to digital learning materials in public schools by 2017.

Doing so will ensure provision of high quality, integrated digital teaching and learning to all students, according to a press release from McCrory’s office.

Saine emphasized the importance of providing teachers with the tools and training to operate in a digital classroom in order for their students to be prepared for 21st-century jobs.

He also said the bill stipulating the move away from hard-copy books essentially “codifies the intent of the Legislature” regarding the initiative while announcing its willingness to fund it, including the required devices.

“This legislation will help fundamentally transform the way our children learn in our schools through technology,” McCrory said in a statement. “I thank the bill sponsors as we continue to work together to empower our hardworking teachers and students by giving them the resources necessary to succeed in the classroom.”

Saine, who spent time during the summer and fall hearing from all sides of the issue, said he was pleased to see that McCrory’s proposed budget, released earlier this week, includes funding for digital learning.

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