Remarks at NetDay 04/19/97

Office of the Press Secretary
Saturday, April 19, 1997


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 forward today.


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 this program.

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? (Laughter.)

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.


STUDENT: Exactly.

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 Corps.

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 it.

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.


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