Will ARRA Education Stimulus Funds Be Used For Change Or Propping Up the Status Quo?

Doug Stein of Memespark has some commentary to share on ARRA and innovation.

By Guest Blogger Doug Stein

s-HUMAN-WHEEL-largeI don’t know if you saw this article. It details how one district is spending the ARRA education stimulus money:

  • Most of the 6.5 million will be spent to keep teachers in place
  • 1.4 million in Title I will be used to outfit all K-5 classrooms in Title I schools with:
  • SMARTboards in all 9th grade remedial Algebra and English
  • $51,700 to hire one technology teacher to train the other teachers…

In other words, nothing much will change in how they educate. SMARTboards are a great *sustaining* innovation that (with the right software) makes the “sage on the stage” more engaging (and hopefully more effective). Unfortunately, in themselves they won’t help drive disruptive innovations such as adaptive or differentiated instruction.

Multiply this by thousands of districts and we’ll have spent a lot of money putting lipstick (and Chanel) on the pig.

To be fair, the one-time nature of the money would mitigate against using it to fund long-term programs; it’s always easiest to spend one-time money on things where you can point-and-grunt to prove you didn’t’ waste it. I’m still hoping some insightful districts will use it instead to “lubricate” the transition to better educational models.

[Lee’s note: I’m hoping many companies also use the one time boost in sales to respond to the disruptive changes the industry is facing regardless of the economic climate. This is an opportunity to drive change for our customers and for ourselves.]