New York voters to decide on major tech education investment

Posted by Justin Hesser on October 17, 2014

On November 4, New York state electors will face some major decisions, including whether to re-elect Governor Andrew Cuomo to a second term. Also on the ballot will be a proposal to approve the Smart Schools Bond Act, which would allow the State to sell $2 billion worth of bonds to fund adoption of technological upgrades in classrooms.

Per the question's official text, the funding would "provide access to classroom technology and high-speed Internet connectivity to equalize opportunities for children to learn, add classroom space to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, replace classroom trailers with permanent instructional space and install high-tech smart security features in schools."

Cuomo introduced the Smart Schools Bond Act, which would distribute money based on the school aid formula, with community leaders, parents, school districts and students coming together to decide how exactly to allocate it. According to the New York State Broadband Program Office, 56 percent of the state's schools have insufficient broadband access, and 31 schools have none at all.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has joined forces with local leaders, including Geoffrey Canada, the president of the non-profit Harlem Children's Zone, to stress the importance of technology in education in a series of public forums. Proponents say that investment like this is crucial, especially for the development of the STEM fields, and can lead to economic benefits for the region down the road.

Long a leader in a myriad other areas, New York is an emerging technological hotspot, thanks in part to public programs, such as the launch of startup portal Digital.NYC, which this blog reported on recently. Leaders hope that investment in tech education now will make the region attractive to software developing companies in the future.