THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY LEARNING GRANTS
The Roosevelt Room
9:28 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for your outstanding work on this issue. And thank you, Secretary Riley and Secretary Brown, for your work as well.
I want to say a few more things about the people behind me and those in front of me, but if I might, in the beginning, I think it would be appropriate for me to make a few comments about what has happened to the Amtrak train in Arizona.
We believe it was a case of sabotage. And I am profoundly outraged by it. I want to make it clear that we will do everything we can with the federal government to catch whoever is responsible. I am determined that we will make sure that in the United States we will have the tools, the means we need to keep the American people safe. We will get to the bottom of this. We will punish those who are responsible. We will not tolerate acts of cowardice like this in the United States, regardless of the motive.
And when I know more about it, I'll be glad to comment more about it.
I have just finished a meeting, along with the Vice President and other members of our administration, with leaders who are here behind me, leaders of many of the American companies on the cutting edge of the Information Age. They are helping to lead our nation into the world of the 21st century as the strongest economic power in the world.
Two and a half weeks ago in California, I met with some other business leaders, and I called on the representatives of business, government, teachers, schools, parents, students, to become involved in a high-tech venture with a guaranteed return. I asked for a national public-private partnership to connect every classroom in America to the information superhighway by the year 2000.
This today, this meeting, is the next step. Today these business and education leaders have joined with me to launch a partnership that will ensure that every child in America is technologically literate for the dawn of the 21st century, and that every child in America has the resources, the means, by which to become technologically literate by the dawn of the 21st century.
The idea that every child deserves the opportunity to build a bright future has been at the heart of America's education system and America's entire value system. Education is the way we keep the promise of the American Dream to all of our children without regard to their circumstances.
Today, that means computers, knowing how to make the most of them, having teachers who can work with students to make the most of them, and having the right software to make the computers make sense.
Technological literacy must become the standard in our country. Preparing children for a lifetime of computer use is just as essential today as teaching them the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
This isn't just computers for computers' sake. We're going to work together to help our schools use technology to revolutionize American education so that all children will be able to learn better and teachers will be able to be more effective.
In the next few months, the leaders here behind me will be working with us to produce a plan based on the four pillars I outlined in California: modern computers in every classroom, accessible to every student from kindergarten through the 12th grade; connections from every classroom to the incredible educational resources flowing throughout the world; teachers in every classroom who are trained to make the most of new technology to educate every student. And I want to emphasize one of the most important aspects of the technological revolution is the opportunities being opened to children so many Americans had given up on and schools that too many Americans had given up on. And finally, a rich array of educational software and information resources.
Today, I'm announcing three steps forward that show we are turning these principles into reality. First, we're awarding Technology Learning Challenge Grants to 19 communities. In each community there's a partnership of educators, businesses, libraries, museums and community groups that have come together to retool their schools for the 21st century. They are matching these grants. They are committing hardware and software, hard work, and know-how. For example, in Dover, Delaware, Bell Atlantic, Lightspan Partnership and the State Education Department are linking homes and schools through family tv sets to improve reading and arithmetic in the early grades. This is how these partnerships will work.
Let me say that it costs a very modest amount of money. This is one of the discussions we have to have in the weeks ahead as we continue our progress toward a balanced budget. We can balance the budget without cutting back on our commitment to our educational future. For a very small amount of national money, we are leveraging much larger amounts of local resources. And I would say again, this is the kind of thing that the nation ought to be doing now in the area of education and the sort of thing I will be trying to preserve as we negotiate the shelves of the budget discussions.
The second thing I want to announce is a private sector effort making a difference in one state is now going nationwide. We must rely on the expertise of millions of Americans working in the high-tech professions. The Technology Corps brings private sector volunteers into our schools so that they can bring technology into our classrooms. It's already working in Massachusetts where it was started by Gary Beach, who is here with us today, to connect Massachusetts schools. And now we want to do this around the country.
Finally, we're launching the American Technology Honor Society to harness the high-tech skills of exceptional students so they can help to expand their own school's use of technology. We have to remember that people born in the Information Age are more comfortable with it than people like me, who weren't. (Laughter.)
The American Technology Honor Society will be rooted in the National Honor Society, and it will be run by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Communities, businesses and governments; parents, teachers and students -- this could be the largest merger in history, with no questions from the Justice Department. (Laughter.) Certainly it will be the most important partnership for the future in the United States today, working together to put a computer in every classroom, and a computer whiz at every desk.
Every child in America deserves the chance to get the high-tech know-how to unlock the promises of the 21st century. Every child in America. And thanks to the statesmanship and vision of the people who are here with me today and many like them all around America, we are going to forge a partnership to do just that.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 9:35 A.M. EDT