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Two Firms Join Council To Link Schools To 'Learning Network'

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The Council of the Great City Schools, in partnership with a national telecommunications corporation and a California-based software company, has launched a pilot program to provide urban schools with connections to the "information highway.''

The group announced last month that it will interconnect three pilot sites in St. Louis, Nashville, and Portland, Ore., through its new National Urban Learning Network.

The network will enable schools to engage in distance-learning projects, conduct teleconferences, and obtain video programming.

After the pilot phase is completed, Detroit, San Diego, Baltimore, and Boston will be added to the network, officials said.

Joining the council in the project is the MCI Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Washington-based telecommunications company, which has pledged to contribute $100,000 and technical and logistical support.

Total Multimedia Inc. a California software concern, will help develop the network. The company, known as T.M.M., has worked with the Hueneme school district in California to develop interactive multimedia software.

The council, which represents 50 of the nation's largest urban districts, also has applied for a $290,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support the project, which it hopes eventually to extend to all of its member cities.

Henry Duvall, a spokesman for the organization, said the network is designed to counter the perception that "information redlining'' by telecommunications firms will deny poor students access to data networks, and to insure that "urban schools are not neglected in any way'' in the rush to build the information highway.

Goals Panel Statement

In a related development, the National Education Goals Panel has approved a list of recommendations aimed at insuring that all students obtain access to the developing information infrastructure.

The guidelines are designed to provide policymakers in government, education, and business with assistance on such issues as licensing, regulation, and professional development of educators to make the best use of network technologies in education.

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