SUBJECT: Expanding Access to Internet-based Educational
Resources for Children, Teachers, and Parents
My number one priority for the next 4 years is to make sure that all Americans
have the best education in the world.
One of the goals of my Call to Action for American Education is to bring the
power of the Information Age into all of our schools. This will require
connecting every classroom and library to the Internet by the year 2000; making
sure that every child has access to modern, multimedia computers; giving
teachers the training they need to be as comfortable with the computer as they
are with the chalkboard; and increasing the availability of high-quality
educational content. When America meets the challenge of making every child
technologically literate, children in rural towns, the suburbs, and inner city
schools will have the same access to the same universe of knowledge.
I believe that Federal agencies can make a significant contribution to
expanding this universe of knowledge. Some agencies have already launched a
number of exciting projects in this area. The White House has a special "White
House for Kids" home page with information on the history of the White House.
NASA's K-12 initiative allows students to interact with astronauts and to
share in the excitement of scientific pursuits such as the exploration of Mars
and Jupiter and with experiments conducted on the Space Shuttle. The AskERIC
service (Education Resources Information Center), supported by the Department
of Education, has a virtual library of more than 900 lesson plans for K-12
teachers, and provides answers to questions from educators within 48 hours --
using a nationwide network of experts and databases of the latest research.
Students participating in the Vice President's GLOBE project (Global Learning
and Observation for a Better Environment) collect actual atmospheric, aquatic,
and biological data and use the Internet to share, analyze, and discuss the
data with scientists and students all over the world. With support from the
National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of
Defense's CAETI program (Computer-Aided
Education and Training Initiative), the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has
developed a program that allows high school students to request and down-load
their own observations of the universe from professional telescopes.
We can and should do more, however. Over the next 3 months, you should
determine what resources you can make available that would enrich the Internet
as a tool for teaching and learning, and produce and make available a new or
expanded version of your service within 6 months.
You should use the following guidelines to support this initiative:
- Consider a broad range of educational resources, including
publications, archives of primary documents, networked scientific instruments
such as telescopes and supercomputers, and employees willing to serve as
tele-mentors or answer student and teacher questions.
- Expand access not only to the information and other resources generated
internally, but by the broader community of people and institutions that your
agency works with and supports. For example, science agencies should pursue
partnerships with professional societies, universities, and researchers to
expand K-12 access to scientific resources.
- Update and improve your services in response to comments from teachers
students, and encourage educators to submit curricula and lesson plans that
they have developed using agency material.
- Focus on the identification and development of high-quality educational
resources that promote high standards of teaching and learning in core
subjects. Of particular importance are resources that will help students read
well and independently by 4th grade, and master challenging mathematics,
including algebra and geometry, by 8th grade.
- Make sure the material you develop is accessible to people with
Earlier this month, I announced my support for the Web Accessibility
Initiative, a public-private partnership that will make it easier for people
with disabilities to use the World Wide Web.
I am also directing the Department of Education to develop a "Parents Guide to
the Internet," that will explain the educational benefits of this exciting
resource, as well as steps that parents can take to minimize the risks
associated with the Internet, such as access to material that is inappropriate
The Department of Education will also be responsible for chairing an
interagency working group to coordinate this initiative to ensure that the
agency-created material is of high quality, is easily accessible, and promotes
awareness of Internet-based educational resources among teachers, parents, and