Hello, and thank you for your efforts to make NetDay a success. I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to talk with you about the importance of technology in education.
One of the most important goals that President Clinton and I have set for this country is to give every child in America access to high quality educational technology by the dawn of the new century.
To do this right --we have to connect every classroom to the Internet by the year 2000 --with modern computers, compelling educational software, and teachers who are as comfortable with a computer as they are with a chalkboard.
Technology is a powerful tool for teaching and learning. In schools that have computers and access to the Internet, teachers can exchange lesson plans with each other and communicate with parents via electronic mail. Students can log into the Library of Congress to research a history paper, communicate in real-time with scientists in Antarctica, or learn about the possibility of life on Mars from the NASA home page on the World Wide Web. When students get hooked on learning, test scores go up and dropout and absenteeism rates go down.
That's one of the reasons why we need to make sure that every child in America has access to these opportunities. We're doing our part to make this vision a reality, with the Administration's proposal for a $2 billion, 5-year Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, and also deep discounts for the cost of connecting schools and libraries as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
But if we're going to reach this goal, everyone is going to have to pitch in and do their part.
That's why I am so excited by NetDay. On March 9, 1996, President Clinton and I joined tens of thousands of California parents, engineers, teachers and other volunteers to wire more than 3,000 schools in a single day --the first ever high tech barnraising.
Since then, NetDay organizations have formed in virtually every state in the nation. Companies are donating hardware, software, and wiring kits, and they're encouraging their employees to volunteer. Computer experts who belong to organizations such as TechCorps are helping schools develop technology plans. Volunteers are rolling up their sleeves and learning to install wire in local schools. And even more important than the physical connections that get made are the closer human connections between the school and the surrounding community.
I want to congratulate you, and thank you for being NetDay volunteers, sponsors, and organizers. You are helping to put the future at the fingertips of our children. If you haven't been involved in NetDay, I urge you to consider it.
NetDay volunteers are helping to build that bridge to the 21st century for all of our nation's children -- rich and poor, urban and rural. There is nothing more important than providing young people with the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in the future.
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore