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The White House

Office of the Vice President


ForImmediateRelease April 28, 1998
                          VICE PRESIDENT GORE 
                         PRAISES UNION EFFORTS 
             TO CONNECT 700 OF THE NATION'S POOREST SCHOOLS 
                           TO THE INTERNET

       Also Announces Steps To Connect All Children to the Internet

Washington, DC -- Joining school children across the country in an interactive online session, Vice President Gore today praised union workers for volunteering their weekends and free time to connect 700 of America's poorest schools to the Internet and pointed to several steps that the Administration is taking to give all children access to the Internet.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that so many union workers responded to our challenge to connect all school children to the Internet and volunteered their weekends to bridge the digital divide, Vice President Gore said. These kinds of grassroots efforts along with new Administration initiatives will help us reach our goal of providing all children access to the Internet regardless of race, geography, or income.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore held the first NetDay two years ago in California where they joined 20,000 volunteers, parents and teachers in wiring thousands of California schools with 6 million feet of cable. Since then, volunteers from the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have organized NetDays in 700 of the nation's poorest schools including in our Empowerment Zones.

In addition, after recent studies showed that only 14% of poor classrooms have access to the Internet, the Vice President pointed to several steps that the Administration is taking to connect all of our students to the Information Superhighway.

This initiative will help us identify the schools that are being left behind in the effort to wire every school and every classroom, Vice President Gore said. And this initiative goes beyond connecting all our schools to provide students with the kind of online help from real people that can often make the difference in student achievement.

Access to the Internet for Every Child in Our Urban Centers: The Vice President reported that through the e-rate and other educational technology initiatives, every school in the 50 largest urban school districts in the country will gain access to the Internet by this time next year. The e-rate provides discounts to urban and rural, public and private K-12 schools and libraries for Internet access. Discounts for schools range from 20-90 percent on a sliding-scale formula. The level of discounts are determined by two factors -- percentage of students eligible for Free or Reduced Priced Lunch and geographic location.

Access to the Internet for Native American Children: The Vice President reported that by this time next year, each of the about 53,000 children in the 185 Bureau of Indian Affairs schools will have access to the Internet beginning this May 16 when 28 schools will be connected through individual NetDays. Later this year, all Bureau of Indian Affairs schools will receive further help in connecting their students to the Internet through e-rate discounts.

Call for New Study of the Digital Divide: The Vice President reported that the Commerce Department will conduct a thorough analysis of trends in Internet and computer penetration and usage among all segments of society and report back within three months on its findings.

Online Tutoring Initiative: The Vice President reported a new online tutoring initiative to allow students to get information from a national network of top experts through ask an expertservices at www.vrd.org. In addition the Vice President reported a new Education Department guide to online mentoring and a national workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Education Department specifically focussed on mentoring in the information age.