An `Intellectual Disneyland'

Can high-tech interactive learning revolutionize schools?

IN a cluster of nine small high schools scattered across the plains of rural eastern New Mexico, the classrooms of the future are emerging.

High school students in San Jon, House, and Grady - some of the most rural communities in New Mexico - are taking advanced classes from a college some 50 miles away. Through a two-way interactive video system, these students have been linked to each other and to the Clovis Community College.

Through the application of technology to education, these students are participating in a regional classroom and have access to educational resources that don't exist in their small schools and communities. This pocket of innovation in my state of New Mexico is a simple, but instructive, example of how technology can expand the educational opportunities for America's elementary and secondary school students.

The Education Technology Act of 1993, which I introduced recently with Sens. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, Thad Cochran (R) of Mississippi, and Tom Harkin (D) of Iowa, would develop a comprehensive strategy to help integrate educational technology into the curriculum of every American classroom.

This is the most cost-effective method the federal government can use to help states meet the challenge of the National Education Goals, which we are establishing.

Through the bill, the federal government will become a catalyst for a dramatic improvement in student achievement by providing all students with access to modern learning technologies and linking America's elementary and secondary schools to powerful telecommunications and computer networks.

Today's students face the most dynamic and rapidly changing workplace of any American generation.

Since American educational achievement, economic growth and international competitiveness are bound together, our nation's future economic prosperity is linked to an education system that emphasizes excellence and high standards.

Educational technologies will revolutionize the way we teach our children and prepare them for the workplace of the future.

Technology can become a facilitator to the restructuring effort for our schools.

Through interactive information networks using cable, satellite, fiber optics, and computers, students in both rural and urban schools can take courses such as advanced math and science instruction.

Educational technologies can provide all students with access to the self-paced, high-quality instruction that will boost their ability to meet the new, higher standards of the National Education Goals.

Through creative uses of technology, a student can enter an intellectual Disneyland.

The pockets of innovation - like the one in New Mexico I described earlier - exist. But the classrooms of the future we are designing across the nation, utilizing educational technology, must be grounded with the goal of equity and access for all students.

The Education Technology Act of 1993 can provide the vision, the strategy, and the resources to make that goal a reality.

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