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Published in Print: March 1, 1999, as Tech Talk

Tech Talk

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Party Pooper:
GTE Corp. is looking like a spoilsport these days to advocates of the federal E-rate program. Last year, as part of a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission, the company joined SBC Telecommunications Inc. and BellSouth to question the legality of the "education rate" program. The program gives subsidies to schools and libraries for Internet-access equipment and services. But recently, BellSouth dropped out of the lawsuit, and SBC pulled out of a portion of the suit key to the E-rate. Now, GTE stands as the only company suing to contest the school subsidy. A critical issue in the suit concerns universal-service fees, which are collected from telecommunications companies to pay for the E-rate subsidy and other similar programs. Briana Gowing, a GTE spokeswoman, says the E-rate is unfair because some companies that will gain business through the school discounts are not required to pay into the fund. Universal service "was supposed to be explicit, sufficient, and fair," Gowing says.

Web Site Discovered: Kathy Schrock is keeping her day job for now, even though her Web site for educators has hit the big time. Schrock, district technology coordinator for the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, has signed a two-year contract with Discovery Channel Education to maintain her popular Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators on the company's Web site. "She has a big following, which means an increase in traffic for us," says John Buffalo, a spokesman for DCE, a business unit of Discovery Communications Inc. of Bethesda, Maryland. Schrock launched her site in 1995 as a public service. About a year ago, she began selling ads to support it. Schrock would not disclose terms of her contract but said she retains editorial control and is happy to forgo "beating the bushes for advertisers."

Milken's Mission: Knowledge Universe, the Burlingame, California-based company whose principal investors include former Wall Street financier Michael Milken, has created a new division to offer resources to teachers. The division, Teacher Universe, will provide technology planning, professional development, instructional tools, and other services, the company announced in January. A company with annual revenues of $1.2 billion, Knowledge Universe has interests in a variety of businesses targeted at all levels of education. In addition to Milken, the company's other leading investors are his brother, Lowell Milken, and Lawrence Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp. Thomas Kalinske, president of Knowledge Universe, said in his announcement that the company's goal is "to become the leading provider of quality services and products to educators worldwide."

--Mary Ann Zehr and Mark Walsh



Vol. 10, Issue 6, Page 12

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