WASHINGTON, D.C.—Students and teachers in the Marianas will get 3,000 new iPads for their educational toolkits this month, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) announced in a video to constituents yesterday.
The iPads are paid for out of the additional $4.1 million Sablan got for the Marianas in the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed in December 2015.
This is just the first year for the new ESSA funding formula that Sablan wrote for island schools. The extra money now continues year after year.
The Public School System will be putting the iPads into elementary and junior high schools beginning next week. Plans are to continue adding 3,000 per year.
“Having this equipment in their schools is going to make a lot of students and their teachers happy,” Sablan said. “I congratulate PSS for recognizing that our children need to be familiar with a tool they will use in the workplace.
“More importantly, these iPads will help students practice the essential skills of reading and researching that will serve them well throughout their lives.”
As a member of the House Education Committee, Sablan was able to get a funding formula for island schools included in the Section 1203 of the Every Student Succeeds Act. His change affects the biggest pot of federal education money that goes to states and territories. Sablan’s amendment was the only change allowed in the formula nationwide.
“It took me six years of work to make that change,” Sablan said. “It could only happen with reauthorization of the underlying Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides federal help for school districts with a high percentage of low-income families, like the Marianas. So, I had to be patient.
“I used those six years to lay the groundwork with other members of the committee. That is the long game required for changes in federal law, especially when millions of dollars are involved.”
Sablan’s funding formula change boosts the federal grant for PSS to $11.5 million this year—a $4.1-million increase. The annual funding will grow as total federal education spending increases.
Sablan said he looks forward to talking with students and teachers about how they are using the new iPads. The Marianas delegate always tries to visit at least one classroom, when he travels back home from his work in Washington.
‘Our people are our future’
“My long-term goal for the Marianas is to have an educated population,” Sablan explained. “Our people are our future. And the better educated our [children] are, the better off we all will be 10, 20, 30 years from now.”
The Marianas delegate’s work also benefited American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“As the only insular area representative on the Education Committee, I feel a responsibility to look out for the other areas,” Sablan said. “We all work together, across party lines, on many issues. We have much more in common representing the non-state areas of the U.S. than what separates us as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents.
Sablan is a senior member of the Committee and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. (PR)