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Background on the Clinton-Gore Administration's Record to Help Close the Digital Divide

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National Economic Council



September 21, 2000

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have a strong record of working to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that every child is technologically literate. In 1994, President Clinton and Vice President Gore set the goal of connecting every classroom and library to the Internet. In 1996, President Clinton unveiled his Technology Literacy Challenge -- and has made a major commitment of resources to connect every classroom to the Internet, expand access to modern, multimedia computers; make high-quality educational software an integral part of the curriculum; and enable teachers to effectively integrate technology into their instruction

President Clinton succeeded in increasing educational technology funding by over 3,000 Percent -- from $23 million in FY94 to $766 million in FY2000. This includes:

  • $425 million for the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund which helps states and local communities meet all four "pillars" of the President's educational technology initiative (computers, Internet access, teacher training, educational software).
  • $197 million for partnerships between local school districts and the private sector to develop innovative approaches to using technology in the classroom.
  • $75 million to help train all new teachers to use technology.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore also fought for the $2.25 billion "E-rate" to connect schools and libraries to the Internet.

  • The e-rate is providing 20 percent – 90 percent discounts to connect schools and libraries to the Internet, with the deepest discounts going to the poorest schools that need it most.
  • By the end of 2000, the e-rate will have funded $6.25 billion of telecommunications infrastructure and services to schools and libraries. In 1999, 82 percent of public schools (over 78,000) and 51 percent of public libraries received public funding.

Major progress has been made in reaching the goals of the President's Educational Technology Initiative.

  • The number of classrooms connected to the Internet has increased from 3 percent in 1994 to 63 percent in 1999.
  • The number of schools connected to the Internet has increased from 35 percent in 1994 to 95 percent in 1999.
  • Grants supported by the Department of Education are training 400,000 new teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore are building on their past achievements through a number of new and expanded proposals this year. In February 2000, the President and Vice President announced specific proposals in their FY2001 budget to help create digital opportunity for more Americans, including:

  • $2 billion over 10 years in tax incentives to encourage private sector donation of computers, sponsorship of community technology centers, and technology training for workers.
  • $150 million to help train all new teachers entering the workforce to use technology effectively.
  • $100 million to create 1,000 Community Technology Centers in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods.
  • $50 million for a public/private partnership to expand home access to computers and the Internet for low-income families.
  • $45 million to promote innovative applications of information and communications technology for under-served communities.
  • $25 million to accelerate private sector deployment of broadband networks in underserved urban and rural communities.
  • $10 million to prepare Native Americans for careers in Information Technology and other technical fields.

President Clinton successfully mobilized major public and private efforts bridge the digital divide in his April 2000 trip to East Palo Alto, California; Shiprock, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; and Rural North Carolina

  • Over 400 companies and non-profit organizations signed a "National Call To Action" to bring digital opportunity to youth, families, and communities. The call to action set goals such as ensuring that every child is technologically literate, and making home access to the Internet as ubiquitous as the telephone.

  • Companies such as AOL, HP, Qualcomm and Gateway invested over $100 million in new initiatives to bridge the digital divide.

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation committed to a media campaign to motivate young people to "get connected," with Public Service Announcements starring Magic Johnson and Rebecca Lobo.

  • The Federal Communications Commission agreed to expand the Lifeline program so that members of Indian tribes could get phone service for as little as $1 per month.

  • The deans of over 200 hundred colleges of education pledged to meet the President's goal of ensuring that all new teachers will be able to use technology effectively in the classroom, and to benchmark their progress using a self-assessment tool developed by the CEO Forum.

  • Telecommunications companies agreed to provide high-speed Internet access to all businesses and citizens of North Carolina within 3 years.

  • The Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service committed to expand its $670 million telecommunications loan program to companies that provide high-speed Internet access to rural America.

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