Administration Accomplishments in Educational Technology

"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."

President Clinton
State of the Union
January 23, 1996

Last year President Clinton challenged the nation's parents, teachers, government, community, and business leaders to work together to ensure that all American children are technologically literate by the dawn of the 21st century -- equipped with the communication, math, science, and critical thinking skills essential for the 21st century economy. He established four specific goals:


The response to the President's challenge was immediate and came from all parts of the American community. An enormous amount has already been accomplished:

America's Technology Literacy Challenge

To implement his state of the union proposal, President Clinton asked congress to fund a $2 billion, five-year Technology Literacy Challenge designed to catalyze state, local, and private sector partnerships in each state to achieve achieving the four education technology goals. Congress supported the President's request and appropriated $257 million in the omnibus bill for FY97 to launch this challenge. States will be asked to develop a strategy for using the funds to achieve the President's four goals and for ensuring that students in low-income areas are not left behind. While the states will have complete freedom to design programs, they will be asked to find support from private firms which will be at least as great as the Federal funds requested. They will also be asked to specify timetables and benchmarks and to report progress against these benchmarks to the people of the state annually.

The Private Sector Response

CEOs of some of several the nation's largest, and most innovative telecommunication companies have written the President to say that they are responding to his challenge by contributing resources and energy to work in partnership with the states in meeting all four of the President's goals. Sumner Redstone will act as Chairman and Lynn Forrester as Vice Chairman of a new organization that will reach many other CEOs willing to work in partnerships to with states and school districts. This work builds on the recommendations of the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC) created by the President by Executive Order on September 15, 1993 to advise the Administration on policy issues related to the information superhighway. This distinguished group of Americans presented their conclusions to the President and Vice President on February 13, 1996. In their "Kickstart Initiative," they strongly supported the President's vision and four goals in education technology and issued a call to action to community leaders at all.

The Technology Challenge Program

This component of the technology literacy challenge invites school systems, colleges, universities, and private businesses to form partnerships to develop creative new ways to use technology for learning. These local innovation grants focus on integrating innovative learning technologies to improve teaching and learning. Each federal dollar is matched by more than 3 to 1 by local and private funds. The 19 consortia funded last year are reaching schools with 1.2 million students and involve partnerships with businesses, museums, libraries, and parks in school systems around the nation. These 19 programs will be continued and an additional 24 partnerships were funded this year. The new partnerships will allow 24 school districts to work in partnership with a total of 153 other school districts and 130 businesses in 34 states. $57 million will be available for the program in FY97 to support a third round of grants as a part of the funding made available for the Technology Literacy Challenge.

Universal and Affordable Access to
Advanced Telecommunications

President Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which can ensure that all US schools, libraries, hospitals, and clinics have affordable access to advanced telecommunications services. The President has called on the Federal Communication Commission's regulators to ensure that every school and library has access to the information superhighway. States will be encouraged to include plans for taking advantage of this opportunity in the plans they develop under the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund.


The President and Vice President brought together information industry leaders on September 21, 1995, to launch a historic effort to connect classrooms in at least 20 percent of California's schools by the end of the year. The initiative, called NetDay96, is a volunteer effort by California companies, universities, parents, teachers, and engineers to install internal wiring in California schools. On March 9, 1996, the President and Vice President and more than 20,000 volunteers laid 6 million feet of cable connecting thousands of California schools with the technology needed to link classrooms, libraries, and laboratories to the information superhighway. This effort sparked an enormous response around the nation and this fall all 50 states are hosting NetDay events which will bring the nation dramatically closer to our goal of connecting all classrooms to the net by the end of the decade.

Connecting Schools in Empowerment Zones

Earlier this year the Vice President announced an initiative that will connect every school in every Empowerment Zone in the country to the information superhighway this year. Most of these schools are already connected using privately donated funds. Private firms also sponsored a truck loaded with computers, engaging software, and instructors which traveled to every empowerment zone this summer helping expose the communities to the power of the new technology and helping teachers prepare to use the equipment being installed. This program means that every child living in one of the 15 urban and rural Empowerment Zones will be able to connect to the Internet -- and students and teachers in these Empowerment Zones schools will be able to connect to each other. This initiative will help to ensure that all our children have their shot at the American dream by working to close the divide between those children who have access to technology and those who don't.

21st Century Teachers

The new technology can't make much of an impact on learning unless teachers help find creative new ways to exploit its power and make the new tools an integral part of their teaching. The teachers, and the organizations that support teachers, all stepped forward earlier this year work together to meet the president's challenge. The National School Boards Association, the National PTA, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and many other professional and business organizations have launched this initiative which hopes to recruit thousands of teachers who will volunteer to enhance their own understanding of how to use education technology and share their expertise with at least five of their peers during the coming school year. The group is making extensive use of the worldwide web to help teachers communicate with each other and identify materials and programs available for professional development.

Tech Corps

The President announced the creation of the Tech Corps -- a national organization of private sector volunteers with technological expertise dedicated to improving K-12 education at the local level. Tech Corps was launched as a private-sector response to the President's national mission to make all children technologically literate by the dawn of the 21st century. Its purpose is to recruit, place, and support volunteers from the private sector to advise and assist schools in integrating new technologies into the classroom. Official Tech Corps chapters have been formed in 35 states plus the District of Columbia. Tennessee has a very active chapter with many volunteers from the Knoxville area.

Grants to Schools Through the Telecommunications and
Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP)

The Clinton Administration created the Department of Commerce's Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP), which makes grants to public institutions to speed the flow of information through the application of advanced communications technology. TIIAP has accelerated the pace of connecting public institutions and has stimulated significant private sector investment. This program has enabled the federal government to leverage $24.4 million in federal funds to provide a total of $64.4 million in cutting-edge demonstration projects for public institutions.

Connecting Students to the Environment

The Vice President initiated the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program in 1994. GLOBE joins students, educators, and scientists in an international science and environmental education network using state-of-the-art technology. GLOBE students make environmental observations at or near their schools and share their data through the Internet. More than 2,000 schools in the U.S. participated in GLOBE in 1995.

The Department of Defense Dependent School System

The President asked the Secretary of Defense to ensure that the children of US service personnel studying in DoD school systems are able to take full advantage of the opportunities of education technology. DoD responded with a vigorous program built around all four of the President's goals. The investment will ensure that students will have full access to the enormous resources available on the internet wherever their parents are stationed.

Executive Order Facilitating Transfer of
Federal Computers to Schools

The President issued an executive order streamlining procedures for contributing computer equipment to schools and other nonprofit educational institutions. The order encourages use of nonprofit reuse and recycling programs to upgrade computers for schools. Many nonprofit programs both refurbish computers -- ensuring that schools get fully functional and reliable equipment -- and teach students how to repair computers. The order specifies that federal Empowerment Zones and Enterprise communities have priority helping ensure equity in access to new education technology. The executive order has already resulted in major transfers of equipment to empowerment zones.

Goals 2000 Technology Planning

Under the Goals 2000 Educate America Act, in the first round of funding, five million was provided for state technology infrastructure development. 48 states used these funds to establish a technology task force and to develop and implement a technology plan to improve student learning as an integral part of the Goals 2000 state improvement plan. In addition, many states are using portions of their Goals 2000 funds to integrate technology to their overall statewide planning efforts.

ERIC Program

In order to reach out to the teachers across the country, the Clinton Administration expanded the ERIC service, which stands for the Educational Resources Information Clearing House Service. Educators are able to send questions through e-mail to askERIC, and receive a response within 48 hours. Educators can ask about lesson plans, educational techniques, information on GOALS 2000, and so on. Every week 200 new questions come in, and the information that ERIC has made available on-line, such as sample lesson plans and answers to frequently asked questions, is accessed more than 15,000 times a week.

Improving Rural Education and Health Care

The Administration supports the wide dissemination of information to improve education and health care for rural residents through the existing Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Medical Link (DLML) Grant Program. The program has given students attending rural schools in 28 states access to previously unavailable courses.

Star Schools Program

The Administration has maintained strong support for the Star Schools distance learning projects, which have helped improve instruction in mathematics, science and foreign languages, literacy skills and vocational education. These distance learning projects serve under-served populations through partnerships that develop, construct, acquire, maintain and operate telecommunications audio and visual facilities and equipment, develop and acquire educational and instructional programming, and obtain technical assistance for the use of such facilities and instructional programming. More than one million students and their teachers in the 50 states and territories participate in this program funded by the Department of Education.

Regional Technology Consortia

The Clinton Administration initiated the Department of Education's Regional Technology Consortia to help state and local educational agencies, teachers, administrators and others to integrate advanced technologies into K-12 classrooms, library media centers and other educational settings (including adult literacy centers). The Consortia are establishing and conducting regional activities that address professional development, technical assistance, and information resource dissemination to promote the effective use of technology in education.

Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) administers grant and loan programs to assist rural and remote communities with the development of their communications infrastructure, including schools. In addition, 52 K-12 school systems will be provided two-way interactive video services.

Assessing School Connectivity

The first national survey of school access to broad band telecommunications and the Internet was completed in the Fall of 1994. A second national survey was conducted in October 1995, which documents the progress being made to link schools and classrooms to each other and to the information superhighway.

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