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Administration To Propose Educational-Technology Grant Fund

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The Clinton administration plans to propose creating a new federal fund to promote educational technology in schools.

The so-called "technology matching fund," which President Clinton is to formally unveil in the coming weeks, will be included in his proposed fiscal 1997 budget. It would offer grants to states to help schools purchase computers, launch teacher training programs, or pay for the development of educational software.

"What this will do, if we can get the Congress to work with us, is really move forward the rapid integration of technology in schools," Linda G. Roberts, the technology adviser to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, said in an interview last week. "This is a national commitment to ensure that we don't leave some states and some schools behind."

She stressed that the proposed program would not focus simply on acquiring new and better hardware, and said that the administration hopes states would emphasize using the aid for professional development.

Administration officials said Mr. Clinton will propose spending roughly $2 billion over five years on the grants, which would complement efforts already underway in many states. State and local matching funds would be required, and officials hope they could quadruple the available resources.

Although the private sector is expected to bear the cost of wiring schools for telecommunications, the administration estimates that it will nonetheless require $10 billion in federal, state, local, and private funds over the next five years to meet the administration's school-technology goals.

Uncertain Reception

Ms. Roberts conceded that the proposal must be approved by an adversarial Republican-controlled Congress, which has voted to slash the Department of Education's technology budget.

Although the White House has not circulated the proposal widely on Capitol Hill, aides on the House and Senate education committees were skeptical last week that any sizable new spending would be enacted.

Educational technology has long been on the administration's agenda, and the president mentioned the importance of technology in schools during last week's State of the Union Address.

The White House is also preparing to release a detailed plan laying out a strategy for bringing schools into the information age. (See Education Week, Dec. 13, 1995.)

Another report, released recently by an advisory panel on technology issues, highlights effective K-12 programs. (See story, page 7.)

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