How do you close the digital divide?
Gore believes that we must redouble our efforts to close the digital
divide and create digital opportunity. Increasingly, access to IT and the
skills needed to use it effectively are becoming essential to full participation
in America's economic, political and social life. Unfortunately, low income,
rural and minority families are still much less likely to have access to
computers and the Internet. Gore would work to ensure that all Americans
benefit from the Information Age.
He would launch a new crusade to make the Internet as universal as the
telephone in every American household. As president, Gore would encourage
public/private partnerships to bring affordable Internet access to the hardest-to-reach
urban and rural communities. In April, he announced that the administration
had allocated funding to enable America's one-millionth classroom to be
connected to the Internet. Gore knows that technology is fueling the engine
of our new economy and that by connecting all our children to the Internet,
we will put a whole new world of knowledge and information at their fingertips.
Gore fought for the "E-rate" program to provide low-cost Internet access
to the schools that serve our nation's most disadvantaged children. As president,
he would make sure we finish connecting every classroom and library in America
to the Internet, train all teachers to use technology effectively, expand
access to modern computers and multimedia, and encourage the development
of high-quality educational software and online resources.
As president, Gore would work with the private sector to establish a
national network of Community Technology Centers in low-income neighborhoods,
where people can learn how to use computers and the Internet. He would also
work with private and community-based organizations to support the development
of applications that would empower low-income families — such as adult literacy
courseware that would allow low-income workers to compete for higher-wage
GEORGE W. BUSH
Closing the digital divide in our nation must begin in our nation's
schools, and it must be paired with the fight to close the achievement gap.
Bush believes that reading is the building block for success, and success
in reading must be the foundation for education reform. That is why he would
commit his administration to the ambitious goal of ensuring that every disadvantaged
child can read by the third grade, with federal investments including the
Reading First Initiative.
Through the Reading First Initiative, we would invest $5 billion over
five years to conquer illiteracy among disadvantaged children. Once reading
is mastered, Bush believes that our nation's children have a tremendous
opportunity with the advancement of our new economy. At this point, it is
critical that we ensure that all students have the tools they need to be
successful in the technology era.
The real divide is in educational achievement, not just digital access.
Focusing on the percentage or number of wired schools misses the point.
Technology is a tool, and the goal must be improved student performance.
To encourage the use of technology as a means to student achievement, Bush
wants to enact a number of reforms, including a package of new initiatives
totaling $400 million over five years.
To provide schools with maximum flexibility in the use of federal education
technology funds to help close the achievement gap, as president, Bush would
establish a $3 billion Enhancing Education through Technology Fund by consolidating
the FCC's Schools and Libraries program with eight of the Education Department's
technology programs. He would also free states and schools from federal
regulations to allow maximum flexibility in using federal funds for such
purposes as teacher training, software purchase and development, and system
integration. And he would continue to give priority to rural schools and
schools serving high percentages of low-income students.
However, Bush would not continue to accept poor results with federal
money. With federal funding and local control would come accountability.
If a program is found to be ineffective, it should be changed so that our
nation's children receive the very best education possible. He would also
promote a clearinghouse for information, which would provide educators with
materials that have proven to be effective teaching resources.
In addition to providing schools with more information about the uses
of technology for improving student performance, Bush would do two more
* Provide $65 million annually to the Education Department's Office
of Education Research and Improvement for universities and other research
institutions to conduct research on which methods of education technology
boost student achievement.
* Provide $15 million annually to establish the Education and Technology
Clearinghouse to make available to schools and states information on effective
education technology programs, best practices and the latest research studies.
When it comes to the global digital gap, too often the federal government's
export policies are arbitrary and irrational — overtaken by the very technology
they attempt to regulate. Yesterday's supercomputer is today's laptop. Yet
current rules don't take this into account. And there has been too little
opportunity for America's high-tech exporters to make their case about what
should be restricted and what should not.
As president, Bush would fix the export control system by developing
a tough-minded, common-sense export control policy that significantly narrows
the scope of restrictions on commercial products while building high walls
around technologies of the highest sensitivity. He recognizes that our national
security and commercial competitiveness — as well as global competition — have been compromised by a broken export control system.
Too often the system penalizes our high-tech companies by controlling
technology that is widely available from other countries while failing to
prevent unique technology from falling into dangerous hands. Moreover, controls
often lag behind technological developments. And because the international
regime for coordinating export controls was disbanded under the Clinton/Gore
administration, the United States now frequently finds itself trying to
single-handedly prevent diversion of sensitive technology. We need a sensible
export policy — a policy that protects our national security — but we must
also recognize that the competitiveness of our high-technology sector is
itself a critical component of that security. Such a policy must consist
of several key elements.
Bush also wants to develop a tough-minded, common-sense export control
system that safeguards military technology while allowing American companies
to sell technology that is readily available in the commercial market. First
and foremost, we must strengthen America's intelligence and counterintelligence
capabilities to staunch the theft of sensitive military technology at home
and identify threats abroad before they arise.
Second, we must allow American companies to sell products in the international
marketplace when those products are readily available from their foreign
competitors. That means easing export controls on computers and encryption
products that can already be purchased on the open market. At the same time,
as the use of encryption programs increases, American law enforcement must
always have the resources to stay ahead of the criminal use of that technology.
In addition, Bush supports bipartisan Senate legislation that reauthorizes
the Export Administration Act (EAA) and allows companies to export products
when those products are already readily available in foreign or mass markets.
Under the current system, controls are generally based on technical
specifications (such as raw computing power) that consistently lag behind
technological developments, resulting in unilateral U.S. restrictions on
widely available technologies. Such restrictions needlessly penalize U.S.
businesses while failing to strengthen our national security.
For those items not already available in foreign or mass markets — and
therefore requiring a license — Bush would work to streamline and expedite
the license approval and post-shipping reporting processes. This effort
would recognize the brief nature of most product cycles for the limited
number of high-tech products that require a license.
To further streamline the export review process, Bush would establish
the president's Technology Export Council (PTEC), which would report regularly.
PTEC's membership would include technology-sector representatives. It would
meet regularly to monitor the implementation and operation of the EAA, with
special attention to whether products are already available in mass or foreign
The world is changing and so must the attitude of government. As president,
Bush would work to lift barriers to innovation and fight efforts in the
United States and overseas to impose new obstacles. One priority would be
pursuing an international agenda that supports America's high-technology
Finally, Bush understands that to be prosperous as a world economy,
we Americans must embrace free trade. So he would fight to tear down the
international barriers to innovation that have already been raised and work
to ensure that new ones are not erected. Among other things, Bush would:
* Make the Internet a duty-free and tariff-free zone worldwide.
* Fight to tear down nontariff barriers to trade in information technology.
* Step up efforts to combat piracy of American ideas and intellectual
* Promote the development of internationally compatible standards for
In all these things, Bush is committed to encouraging and supporting
solutions conceived, developed and led by industry itself, wherever possible.
He also plans to establish a stable environment that encourages research
and innovation without attempting to direct them. One key way to spur creativity
is enacting a permanent tax credit for research and development. The R&D
Experimentation Tax Credit would encourage long-term investment in research
by high-technology companies and thereby strengthen America's technological
leadership. It is time to get rid of the temporary on-again, off-again nature
of this credit, which confuses and disrupts corporate planning. As president,
Bush would lead Congress toward making the tax credit permanent. He has
also proposed doubling the research budget of the National Institutes of