THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 4, 2000
FROM DIGITAL DIVIDE TO DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY
A NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION
Access to information technology and the Internet and the ability to use this technology effectively are becoming increasingly important to full participation in America's economic, political and social life. While computer and Internet access has exploded in recent years, America faces a "digital divide"— a gap between those who have access to Information Age tools and the skills to use them and those who don't.
America has an important choice to make: we can allow unequal access to deepen existing divisions along the lines of race, income, education level, geography, and disability -- or we can use technology as a powerful tool to help make the American dream a reality for more people. To help create digital opportunity for more Americans, we must create strong partnerships between government, industry, and the rich mosaic of America's civil society -- including educators, labor unions, librarians, civil rights leaders, faith-based organizations, foundations, volunteers, and community-based organizations.
As companies, non-profit organizations and individuals, we are committed to taking concrete steps to meet two critical national goals: (1) Ensuring Access To 21st Century Learning Tools For Every Child In Every School; and (2) Expanding Digital Opportunity For Every American Family And Community. We pledge to support these two goals.
GOAL ONE: 21st Century Learning Tools for Every Child in Every School
For children to succeed, they need to master basic skills at an early age. A critical element of this is the need for information and technological literacy. To help achieve these aims, we must focus on a comprehensive approach to integrating technology into teaching and learning while recognizing that -- as powerful as technology is -- it is no substitute for an inspiring teacher or a loving parent. Together, we must:
- Connect every classroom to the Internet
- Ensure that all students have modern multi-media computer access, ideally at a ratio of 1 computer for every 4-5 students
- Ensure that teachers are technologically literate and can integrate technology into the curriculum
- Make available high quality educational software and online learning resources
GOAL TWO: Digital Opportunity for Every American Family and Community
To ensure that no family or community is left behind, we must:
- Set the long-term goal of making home access to the Internet universal
- Bring technology to every community -- urban, rural, and Native American -- through Community Technology Centers and high-speed networks
- Give adults the skills they need to use information technology and compete for jobs in the IT sector
- Motivate and inspire more people to appreciate the value of "getting connected"