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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 30, 1999



The E-rate program is part of the Administration's effort to connect every classroom and library, giving every child access to the information superhighway. It helps provides America's schools and libraries with discounts of 20 to 90 percent on telecommunications services, internal connections and Internet access -- with the deepest discounts going to the poorest urban and rural schools.

Although this program enjoys broad support from telecommunications companies, one company questioned whether the Federal Communication Commission had the authority to provide funding for internal wiring that connects classrooms to the Internet.

Today the Fifth Circuit Court upheld the structure of the E-rate program including coverage for Internet access and connections to the classroom and upheld the FCC's authority to target discount levels to the schools and libraries with greatest needs.


I applaud the decision today by the Fifth Circuit Court to uphold the E-rate program. This decision is a victory for America, a victory for our schools and libraries, and a victory for the future of all American children.

As a nation, I think it should be our collective goal to see to it that every classroom and library is connected to the Internet, ensuring that the opportunities of the Information Age belong to all our children.

For the very first time in our history, it is now possible for a child in the most isolated inner-city neighborhood or rural community to have access to the same world of knowledge at the same instant as the child in the most affluent suburb. Research shows that technology can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, and is boosting student test scores, improving attendance, enhancing professional development for teachers and increasing parental involvement in education.

But until every child has a computer in the classroom and a teacher well-trained to help, until every student has the skills to tap the enormous resources of the Internet, until every high-tech company can find skilled workers to fill its high-wage jobs, America will miss the full promise of the Information Age.