THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Saturday, April 19, 1997
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT AT NETDAY
The Oval Office
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THE PRESIDENT: Hi, students!
STUDENTS: Hi, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Now, is that Mr. Contreras with you?
Hello, Miguel, how are you?
MR. CONTRERAS: Buenos dias, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Buenos dias. Now, why don't you tell us
why you're volunteering this weekend?
MR. CONTRERAS: Well, we've got quite a number of union
members here in Los Angeles as part of the national AFL-CIO NetDay,
that are coming together here to help wire 38 schools and empowerment
zones in Los Angeles. And we're going to kick it off today. We
think that educational opportunities is equivalent to civil rights
here, and we want to make sure that all our students have the
necessary tools to bring them into the 21st century.
So we're glad that you're supporting this effort. And
the unions here -- in particular, the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers, Local 11; we have the CWA -- Communication
Workers of America, and the United Teachers of LA all have turned out
today to ensure that the wiring is a success. So we're going to move
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
And, Ms. Robinson, what benefits do you expect to flow
from this to the students at your school?
MS. ROBINSON: Well, we want to be prepared for the 21st
century and we want our children to be familiar and to be competent
and to be ready to use the Internet. So we expect a great deal,
great many benefits from this. We want the Super Information Highway
-- we know that is the way of the future and we want all of our
students to be prepared for that.
We have a lot of our staff members here also -- my
teachers, my parents, my superintendent. And so we're all very
excited about the work that's going to take place today.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you.
How many of the young people behind us know how to use a
computer? Raise your hand if you can use a computer. (Laughter.)
MR. CONTRERAS: Quite a number of them.
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you. Well, good luck.
MR. CONTRERAS: Don't ask the adults. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, don't ask the adults on this side
of the screen, either. (Laughter.) The Vice President can raise his
hand; I'm not so sure about me. (Laughter.)
Have a good day. Thank you.
STUDENTS: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Now we want to go to Hartford. There's
Hartford. Good morning.
STUDENTS: Good morning!
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank all the young people who
are there participating in the Youth Tech Corps. The Vice President
and I just announced that Connecticut will be getting some more funds
from the Department of Education to make sure that every child in
Connecticut will have access to educational technology. So I want
you to tell me about what the Youth Tech Corps is doing and how that
relates to getting technology out to everybody.
STUDENT: The Youth Tech Corps, first of all, is a
program that is designed to match students who have strong interests
with technology with other students, and use businesses to enhance
THE PRESIDENT: So those of you who have good skills are
helping those who need it, right?
STUDENT: Or more interested.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, maybe you could send me a
volunteer. I need some help down here. (Laughter.)
STUDENT: No problem.
THE PRESIDENT: I see a couple of volunteers in the back
of the room there. They're laughing. (Laughter.)
What have you done on NetDay? What does it mean for
Connecticut and for you?
STUDENT: Well, basically the Youth Tech Corps is --
basically, we're trying to continue on the process of Connect '96 and
just take it the next step to getting the schools, all the schools
connected and make sure that they can use the computers once they
have computers and they're connected to the Internet.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you find in your own experience that
once the computers are there and they're hooked up to the Internet
that they are widely used?
STUDENT: I think they're widely used if the people
using them know how to. I know, like, a lot of students, there are
some that probably don't know how to. But I think, I feel that
they're widely used.
THE PRESIDENT: What about the teachers? Do all the
teachers know how to make maximum use of it?
STUDENT: No. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Some yes and some no, right?
STUDENT: Yes. Some do and some don't, you know.
Because some teachers actually put their grades on computer, not for
-- but those who calculate it.
THE PRESIDENT: So it's important that we don't let the
connecting of the schools and the classrooms get ahead of training
the teachers and the students about how to use the computers.
THE PRESIDENT: Because otherwise they're useless just
sitting there, right?
THE PRESIDENT: Now, is everybody in the room a member
of the Tech Corps?
STUDENT: This is the Corps, this is the beginning of
it. Hopefully, they will continue to be a part of the Youth Tech
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you.
Do you want to say anything, Al?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I just want to congratulate
all of you. It's an exciting day. It makes you feel good to be a
part of this, doesn't it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, congratulations and keep up
the wonderful work.
STUDENT: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You've reminded us of something very
important today about what you're doing, too, because we sometimes
get so focused on making sure all the classrooms in the country are
hooked up that we forget that the hookup is worthless unless the
teachers and the students are trained to use it --
STUDENT: That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: -- and have the time and ability to use
So I thank all of you for what you're doing, and I hope
that this conversation we're having today will lead to some greater
publicity for your Tech Corps so that maybe every community in the
country will have one to make sure that the students and the teachers
can use the computers and the hookups that we're providing.
Thank you. God bless you and good luck. Hang in there.
STUDENTS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Bye-bye. Have a good day.