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The California arm of the GTE Corporation--one of the nation's largest independent telecommunications companies--has pledged to spend more than $5 million to provide more than 2,000 schools in that state with "education credits'' and free consulting services that will give them access to the "information highway.''

Officials of GTE California announced this month that the company will offer credits worth as much as $2,000 to every public school, community college, and public library in its service area to offset the cost of installing telecommunications equipment or to pay for monthly service charges.

The credits can be redeemed over the next 24 months, and GTE plans to send representatives to schools and libraries to help educators develop technology plans.

School districts will be allowed to combine their individual credits to make purchases.

This program follows on the heels of a $100 million initiative launched in February by Pacific Bell, a subsidiary of the Pacific Telesis Group and California's largest telephone company.

Pacific Bell plans to wire as many as two classrooms in each of 6,500 public schools in its service area for access to advanced-telecommunications networks. (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1994.)

In announcing the new program, Pacific Bell officials challenged their competitors to provide services to California schools outside Pacific Bell's service area.

Spokesmen for GTE, meanwhile, emphasized the flexibility of their credit system as an advantage to educators.

"We are not taking a cookie-cutter approach to students who represent the future of California,'' said Larry Sparrow, the president of GTE West Area, which includes California.

"Our approach provides technology to schools on educators' terms,'' he said.

Dale LaFrenz, the president of MECC, one of the nation's leading publishers of educational software, has been elected to the board of directors of the Washington-based Software Publishers Association.

The group is the software industry's principal trade association, with 1,060 members worldwide.

Mr. LaFrenz, who was elected to the board late last month for a one-year term, said he plans to focus on insuring that software products for the home and school markets reflect pedagogy shaped by new national curriculum standards.

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