Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., is open about his limited personal mastery of technology. At a hearing last week of the House Education and the Workforce Committee's subcommittee on early-childhood issues, which he chairs, he confessed that he recently was unsuccessful in playing a video of "The Godfather, Part II" on his home videocassette recorder.
The House technical staff seemed to have the same affliction.
The hearing addressed how educational technology should be treated in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and one panelist planned to show an eight-minute videotape about a model "virtual high school" project that has flourished with federal support.
But something went awry in the committee room's large-screen video system, and the presentation was delayed, then postponed until after the hearing, and finally canceled.
The experts' speeches ran long, partly because of the failure of another device, a timer with green, yellow, and red lights that signals speakers when their time is about to expire.
The chairman relied instead on his Timex wristwatch, though he was slow to cut people off.
As for the videotape, Mr. Castle said he would send copies to the subcommittee members. "Hopefully, we can straighten out policy, if we can't figure out how to work the machinery around here," he said.
Letters to Congress
Middle school students focused most on drugs and alcohol, teenage pregnancy, and crime in letters to members of Congress this year as part of an annual essay contest.
Nearly 11,000 students who participated in the contest, part of a program sponsored by the Lutheran Brotherhood, wrote letters to federal lawmakers. The RespecTeen Speak for Yourself program encourages young people to learn about the democratic process and communicate with elected officials.
More than a third of the participating students wrote letters about drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, or crime. Other issues on their minds included the environment, gun control, education, and health care.
A national panel of educators judged the letters earlier this year and picked a winner from each state and the District of Columbia. The winners were expected to meet with their members of Congress this month.
--Andrew Trotter & Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 18, Issue 36, Page 16