The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that poor oversight by the Pennsylvania Department of Education has led to widespread problems within the state’s highly touted effort to put computers in classrooms, according to a new state audit. The audit of the Classrooms for the Future project, released Dec. 22, found inadequate public disclosure, inconsistent grant funding, and insufficient review of equipment purchases and program results. "While the program in theory is a good one, the Department of Education needs to do a better job monitoring it; the process needs to be more transparent," Auditor General Jack Wagner said. The Rendell administration launched Classrooms for the Future in 2006 to provide laptop computers, high-speed internet access, software, teacher training, and support to high schools in the state’s 501 school districts. The goal of the $200 million program was to put computers in all high school classrooms by 2009. So far, only 30 of 447 school districts participating in the three-year program have received full funding, in part because of high demand and because funding was cut in half this year, according to Michael Race, an education department spokesman. The audit found that 145 districts whose applications were rejected initially were not told why, and that the education department did not follow up with the 50 districts that did not apply for funding. Also, the department did not fully monitor how districts purchased equipment or whether they protected it adequately from theft, and state education officials have not developed plans to sustain the program if it shows positive results. The audit recommends that the department implement an internal monitoring process to ensure that schools receive the right quality and quantity of equipment. Race said the audit overlooks procedures and outreach efforts that already exist…

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