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Schools, Libraries Seen Bridging Technology Gap

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Schools and libraries offer the best means of providing equitable access to telecommunications networks, but they have only begun to bridge the technological gap that divides rich and poor children, a report says.

Although 66 percent of households nationwide with annual incomes of $60,000 or more report having access to a computer, that figure drops to 23 percent of households with incomes between $25,000 and $34,000, the study shows.

Only 9 percent of classrooms are connected to the Internet, and 21 percent of libraries--both public and those in school buildings--have access to the global computer network.

The findings were published this month by the Children's Partnership, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based advocacy group, in a report called "America's Children and the Information Superhighway: An Update."

The report is a follow-up to a 1994 study of the impact of technology on American children, including how they learn. Information for the new study was gathered over nine months from interviews with policymakers and child-development and telecommunications experts, as well as from reviews of child-development research and studies of model programs.

Checklist of Needs

Without more widespread and equitable access to computers, too many children will lack the skills needed to find work in an economy that places a premium on processing information, said Wendy Lazarus, a co-director of the Children's Partnership.

"The real threat to children is that millions are being left behind in the technological revolution," she said.

The report includes a checklist of what the partnership calls the "technological needs" that programs should consider in order to help children compete in the technological marketplace. Among them are high-quality content, efforts to foster media literacy, and guarantees of access for all children.

For More Information:

To order the report, call the Children's Partnership at (310) 260-1220 or send request by electronic mail to CPReport@ koco.com. Information is also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.koco.com/CP/report.

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