Even though state education officials said cybersecurity and privacy are their top education technology priorities, only 6% of respondents to a recent survey by the State Educational Technology Directors Association said their state provides ample funding for cybersecurity.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Education Commission of the States and Whiteboard Advisors, found 37% of respondents reporting their state provides cybersecurity tools to districts.
Additionally, 57% of respondents said their state provides very little or a small amount of funding for cybersecurity. The SETDA report surveyed its members, state superintendents and other senior state officials from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools and the Northern Mariana Islands.
With all the funding put toward ed tech to keep students connected to the classroom from home during the pandemic, it’s important those investments are not for nothing, said Julia Fallon, executive director of SETDA.
“How do we not waste the investments that were made during the pandemic?” Fallon asked. “We don’t want that machine that was bought so it could connect from home necessarily [to] come back to school and just sit there.”
While K-12 cybersecurity investments can be expensive, Fallon said they’re a preventative measure that can save money in the long run.
A lot of smaller districts also cannot afford to hire cybersecurity professionals, Fallon said. She suggested, however, that state leaders could help form small district cooperatives to share these resources.
“For me, smaller districts will always lack resources,” Fallon said. “They don’t have the headcount to generate it. But then how do we, as states, step in and have an opportunity to help?”
SETDA also recently joined several other organizations calling on the Federal Communications Commission to immediately allow E-rate funding for safeguarding school and library networks. The statement followed a major ransomware attack that took down many of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s IT systems.