California Enacts Computer Bill

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Gov. George Deukmejian of California has signed legislation that streamlines the state's educational-computer initiatives and could significantly increase aid to school districts.

Under the legislation, a new organization called the Educational Technology Committee could by next summer be coordinating a $30-million annual program for equipment purchases, teacher training, and software development.

The committee--whose members will be appointed by the Governor, the state board of education, the state superintendent of public instruction, the speaker of the Assembly, and the president of the Senate--will begin its work in January.

Funds for the first six months of the program are included in the $800-million education-reform package signed by Governor Deukmejian in July.

The committee will spend $500,000 in the six-month period ending July 1.

An aide to Assemblyman Richard Katz, who sponsored the measure, said the Governor and legislative leaders expect to appropriate about $30 million annually for five years for the program, beginning in July. An official in the state's education department said the committee could receive a smaller amount.

The committee's main job will be to distribute matching funds to districts for purchases of computer equipment and training for teachers, said Sharon Sprowls, Assemblyman Katz's education adviser. The state will provide $9 for every $1 a district spends for such purposes, Ms. Sprowls said.

The committee will also make grants for the development of educational software, the creation of a television series about the role of com-puters in society, the establishment of teacher-training programs at colleges and universities, and research on computer-assisted instruction. Efforts in those areas so far have been haphazard, an education department official said.

The state's teacher-education centers, a major component of the "Investment in People" program of former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., will not fall under the new committee's authority. The 15 regional centers, which offer computer training for teachers, have a $15-million annual budget.

Ms. Sprowls said the committee would also attempt to attract donations from private companies for its projects.--ce

Vol. 03, Issue 06

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