Clinton budget bolsters IT in the classroom

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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In his fiscal 2001 budget proposal released today, President Bill Clinton offered significant funding boosts designed to bridge the nation's "digital divide," including more money to wire schools to the Internet, prepare teachers to use technology, and create more community technology centers.

Clinton stressed the need to bridge the digital divide — the gap between the nation's technology haves and have-nots — in his recent State of the Union address, and his budget includes increased funding for programs that should help to shrink the gap.

The budget provides $100 million to support the creation of up to 1,000 new community technology centers, which is an increase of $68 million over the 2000 budget. The 2001 budget also includes $150 million — double the 2000 level — for pre-service teacher training in technology that will help 400,000 educators find ways to better use technology in their classrooms.

The continuation and expansion of the E-Rate program, which provides discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent for schools and libraries to purchase wiring equipment, Internet access and telecommunications services, also is included, as is the reaffirmation of a tax incentive that would support $22.4 billion in new bonds for school modernization.

The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, established in 1997 to help states fund technology-related professional development and provide computers and other programs for students, would get a $25 million increase to $450 million. The new Next Generation Technology Innovation program would get $170 million, including $10 million to support the development of advanced placement courses online.

Individuals that cannot afford a home computer would benefit from a $50 million grant program that will be run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Commerce Department. The program will seek to establish public/private partnerships to help bring technology to low-income areas.

The Clinton budget also would increase funding for NTIA's Technology Opportunities Program, formerly the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program, to $45 million in order to continue its success. The program has awarded more than $135 million in federal funds and more than $203 million in matching local funds for projects in technology-deficient areas

The administration also proposed $23 million for the Commerce's Economic Development Administration to provide grants to distressed communities to install broadband infrastructure, and an additional $2 million in grants and $100 million in loans for a pilot program targeted at rural communities.

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