Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Technology Initiative a Boon for Schools

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Technology Initiative a Boon for Schools

Article excerpt

In his State of the Union address in January, President Clinton made a statement that really caught my attention: "In our schools, every classroom in America must be connected to the information superhighway with computers and good software and well-trained teachers ... I ask Congress to support this education technology initiative so that we can make sure this national partnership succeeds."

The president has launched a national mission to make all students technologically literate by the dawn of the 21 st century, equipped with communication, math, science and critical-thinking skills essential to prepare them for the Information Age and for a high-skill, high-wage career of their choice. He challenges the private sector, schools, teachers, parents, students, community groups and state, local and federal governments to meet this goal by building four pillars that will:

1. Provide all teachers the training and support they need to help students learn through computers and the information superhighway.

2. Develop effective and engaging software and online learning resources as an integral part of the school curriculum.

3. Provide access to modern computers for all teachers and students.

4. Connect every school and classroom in America to the information superhighway.

The Clinton administration expects that this ambitious plan will cost somewhere around $10 billion-most of it to be funded by state and local government and businesses. The president also wants Congress to approve $2 billion in federal money over four years to support the initiative, which is outlined below.

State strategy: To get federal money under the administration's plan, each state would develop a strategy for enabling every school to meet those four goals by 2000. The state must show how local districts and schools from the suburbs to the inner cities to rural America are able to participate fully in this initiative. The strategies are to include benchmarks and timetables for accomplishing the four goals, but those measures would be set by each state, not by the federal government.

Private sector State strategies would include significant private-sector participation and commitments to meet the four pillars. Private-sector commitments should at least match the amount of federal support. Such a match could be met by volunteers' services, cost reductions and payments for connections under the expanded Universal Service Fund provisions of the Telecommunications Act and a range of other commitments.

As an example, in my own state of Washington, Bill Gates of Microsoft recently donated $10 million in computer software and training to public community and technical colleges and guaranteed to keep it up to date in the future. …

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