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Letters to the Editor...
Remarks by Sec. of Educ Richard Riley at NECC 2000

Thank you, Craig. I have been secretary of
education since 1993, so I asked my
schedulers why we waited more than
seven-and-a-half years to speak to the
National Educational Computing Conference.
They said they were saving the best for
last, and, after the welcome I have received
here, I see that they were right.

It is wonderful to be here with you. I want
to thank you for working so hard to develop
effective educational technology that can
help students reach high standards of
learning.

At the federal level, we are supporting
educational technology. The federal role in
education is not a controlling role; it is a
supportive role. In fact, federal funding
covers less than 10 percent of overall
education costs, but we provide 25 percent
of the funding for educational technology.

The Clinton-Gore administration has made
this unprecedented investment because, like
all of you, we believe that every child in
21st-century America should have access to
effective educational technology and a
quality education. I'm pleased to tell you
about the development of an exciting new Web
resource that will help in this regard,
announced last week by President Clinton.
The new site, www.firstgov.gov,
will provide all Americans with a
single site where they can find every online
resource offered by the federal government.

The educational technology community and the
administration are on the right track. There
is a growing body of research on how
educational technology affects student
achievement, and I hope you will pick up a
fact sheet at our booth that describes the
research as well as a number of other
education initiatives.

One study found that, on average, students
who used computer-based instruction scored
at the 64th percentile on achievement tests,
while students in the control group without
computers scored at the 50th percentile.

Another study from the Educational Testing
Service found that eighth-graders who used
"higher-order thinking" software showed
significant gains in math scores on the
National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP) tests. The eighth-graders' math
scores also went up when their teachers
received professional development on
computers.

I know that many of you have similar stories
about students who have benefited from
technology, and I applaud your work because
improving student performance is what
educational technology is all about.

That's why I strongly support bringing the
benefits of technological literacy to every
child in America. And I want to take a
moment to remind you of the connection
between technological literacy and literacy.
You may know that Linda Roberts, my adviser
on technology, is going to receive an award
later in the program, and I can tell you
that she is very deserving of it. But what
you may not know is that she is a former
reading teacher.

Linda reminds me from time to time that a
child can't surf the Web without knowing how
to read. And there are parallels between
reading and computing. For example, we help
students "learn to read" so they can "read
to learn." And we help students "learn to
use technology" so that they can "use
technology to learn."

Our efforts have made it possible for more
and more students to benefit from
technology. By the end of this year, nearly
100 percent of our nation's schools will be
connected to the Internet. This progress is
the result of your hard work and the E-Rate
Program, which New York City's educational
technology chief has called a "godsend."

Although the progress has been great, less
than half of the classrooms in the poorest
schools have Internet access. We will need
to work even harder to provide equal access
for students in the poorest schools. I am
hopeful that with business support, federal
E-Rate discounts, and committed educators
and technology leaders, we will meet the
challenge of closing the "digital divide"
and bringing effective educational
technology to all children.

But even if all classrooms are connected,
students won't be connected to effective
technology unless their teachers are well
trained. Craig Barrett has given this a lot
of thought. He has been a leading voice on
the Glenn Commission, which will release a
report in October on how to improve math and
science teaching.

In January, Intel announced a generous
investment that supports technology training
for teachers. In fact, I know that just
about every company represented here today
has formed partnerships with schools. I
think I can speak for students, parents, and
teachers when I say that we are very
grateful for all that you have done to bring
computers and effective technology into our
schools.

When he announced the Intel teacher project,
Craig said, "Computers aren't magic-teachers
are." At the U.S. Department of Education,
we couldn't agree more. We have several
initiatives that can help teachers develop
their "magic" by becoming proficient in
technology. We are not quite as good as the
information technology industry with these
catchy acronyms, anagrams, initialisms, and
abbreviations, but we have come up with TLCF
and PT3.

In 1997, we launched the Technology Literacy
Challenge Fund, which has awarded more than
$1 billion in grants for long-range,
statewide technology plans. The TLCF
supports professional development for
teachers to help them use technology
effectively in the classroom.

And in 1999, we established a program called
Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use
Technology, or PT3. The PT3 programs helps
education majors learn to use the new
teaching and learning styles enabled by
technology.

Grants from the U.S. Department of Education
also support several excellent programs in
which technology is making a measurable
difference. One program provides laptop
computers and "cyber mentors" for migrant
students. And the results have been
terrific. Nationwide, only 50 percent of
migrant students graduate from high school.
But for students in this program, the
graduation rate was 100 percent, and 80
percent of those enrolled in postsecondary
education.

In West Virginia, a state-run educational
technology program has been in operation for
10 years. According to a recent evaluation,
the West Virginia program is highly
successful in equalizing opportunity for
low-income and rural students. Technology
contributed to a 14-point gain by
fifth-graders on the Stanford 9 achievement
test in 1998, and West Virginia improved
from 49th to 17th among all states in
fourth-grade reading.

But with the incredible advances we are
seeing in technology, we know that our
policies must continue to evolve as well. So
we are working on a five-year "National
Educational Technology Plan" that will be
completed this fall. I invite you to help us
articulate these goals so that we can
develop the roadmap that will guide our
policies and programs.

I encourage you to offer your thoughts about
revising the National Educational Technology
Plan on our Web site. I'll give you the
address if you promise not to pull out your
handheld computers and log on until after my
speech. It'shref="http://www.ed.gov/Technology">
www.ed.gov/Technology
.

One of the areas that we will focus on is
creating a teacher corps that is comfortable
with computers, familiar with the up-to-date
educational technology, and eager to let
students make full use of technology. The
teachers at this conference fit that
description. You are wired for the Web,
Internet-ready, and equipped with "Palm
Pilot VIIs." You have everything but an
"Intel Inside" sticker on your foreheads.

That is wonderful, but it is not enough. I
hope you will continue to do everything you
can to bring your colleagues up to speed.
Everyone who is responsible for teaching
children in the 21st century should know how
to use the tools of the information age. We
talk about the importance of making sure
that every child receives a quality
education. We talk about making sure that
not a single child is left behind. We should
think about our teachers in the same way.

So, again, I challenge you to help your
colleagues develop the enormous potential of
America's greatest resource-and we all know
that our greatest resource is not
technology, but our children.

I also have a challenge for the
entrepreneurs and businessmen and -women
here today. Every child learns in a
different way, so I invite businesses to
develop technology that can revolutionize
education by helping teachers to offer
individual instruction for every student.

At this conference, you can see compelling
examples of assistive technologies-from
tools that enable blind learners to
communicate via e-mail, to speech
recognition systems that allow people with
disabilities to do research on the Internet.
Technology can also offer opportunities for
gifted students to learn at their own pace
and explore advanced studies.

Most parents believe that their children are
special and deserve individual instruction.
And they are right. So there is a great
demand for effective educational technology.

You can be sure that if you develop software
that helps children learn to read, you will
have parents and teachers flooding your Web
site. If you design technology to improve
math and science instruction, an area in
which we are struggling to keep up with
other nations, it could be not only a shrewd
business move but also a great act of public
service.

Or, if you develop technology that supports
the "English Plus One" approach, which
requires students to meet high academic
standards in two languages, you will have
parents and teachers clamoring for your
products. And I can tell you that students
in other countries are very eager to learn
English, so there could be huge demand
internationally for programs that teach
English. Technology can provide more
opportunities for young people to learn
about other cultures and study other
languages.

I recently visited a fifth-grade class with
Vice President Gore, who has often taken the
lead for us on educational technology
issues. And a few of the students were
online with students in Ethiopia. The vice
president asked them what they were
learning, and one of the students said,
"We've learned we can be friends." Now,
that's an example of a great lesson.

And it's not a trivial childhood lesson.
Just last week, Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed
to a cease-fire in their conflict. It might
be a stretch of the imagination to make a
connection between educational technology
and a cease-fire between these two African
countries, but I can tell you that I think
your work has the potential to reshape our
world in the 21st century. You can help us
improve achievement for all students,
strengthen our work force and economy, and
build cross-cultural friendship and
understanding.

If we do that, we will have made a huge leap
forward and accomplished something even
greater than all the technological wizardry
ever developed. I know that you are
committed to our children, and I am grateful
for your efforts to help them build a
brighter future for themselves and for our
nation.

Thank you very much.

US Sec. of Education Richard W. Riley
at National Educational Computing Conference
Atlanta, Georgia 6/27/00

This month's letters:

  • Educational Evaluators, 7/31/00, by Cyndy.
  • Alternatives to the NEA, 7/24/00, by JM.
  • Interview Questions, 7/24/00, by Heyley.
  • Uk Chatboard., 7/21/00, by aguk.
  • Breaking the ah-durn myth of permanence in ability, 7/21/00, by Rick Lynn.
  • Testing and School Supplies, 7/21/00, by Natalie.
  • Cooperative Learning & Interactive Skills, 7/20/00, by P. Schmidt.
  • Mother of All Voucher Battles!, 7/19/00, by David Blomstrom.
  • Campaign Donations, 7/19/00, by David Blomstrom.
  • teacher pay, 7/15/00, by Pat.
  • This Web/Teachers Only, 7/15/00, by The parent you resent.
  • teacher pay, 7/13/00, by Ralph.
  • Who Do We Have To Blame?, 7/13/00, by questions2much.
  • Who Do We Have To Blame?, 7/11/00, by Beacon.
  • Remarks by Sec. of Educ Richard Riley at NECC 2000, 7/03/00, by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley.

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