Oracle Corp. Contributing $100 Million To Increase Technology for Schools

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The Oracle Corp. Software manufacturing company has pledged $100 million toward the cause of outfitting every school desk with a networked computer. The company says the commitment is an effort to help give all students equal access to technology.

The donation will endow Oracle’s Promise, a newly formed foundation, and represent the largest monetary commitment to date to America's Promise--The Alliance For Youth, a campaign set up to carry out the goals outlined in April at the Presidents' Summit for America's Future. (See Education Week, April 23 and May 7, 1997.)

Lawrence Ellison, the chairman and chief executive officer of Oracle, announced the donation June 24.

"We're using this as a glittering example of someone doing something good for young people," said Bill Smullen, a spokesman for America's Promise. "We're finding that if you challenge a CEO or a corporation, and ask them what they can do, most are accepting that challenge."

Officials from Oracle" headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., said last week that they had not yet determined any detail about how or over what time period the money will be spent.

Network Power

The computers offered by Mr. Ellison are small, low-cost, appliance-like devices that operate through connection to a powerful network. They would enable students to do word processing and access the Internet.

"I envision every kid getting one of these things almost as easily as buying a lunch box for school," said Frank Winthrow, the director of educational programming for the NASA Classroom of the Future, a center for the research and development of educational technologies based in Wheeling, W.Va. "There are some people who say that you ought to have more power on your desktop, but I don't think you should spend $2,000 to $3,000 when you can have something like this that works as well."

Anne L. Bryant, the executive director of the National School Board Association, emphasized that it's not enough to stock the classrooms with computers without training teachers on how to use them effectively.

"The real question is whether the commitment to teacher development and staff will match the hardware," Ms. Bryant said.

Mr. Ellison made his announcement just one day after Bill Gates, the chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., declared that he was making a personal donation of $200 million, as well as $200 million worth of products from Microsoft, to put more computers and Internet connections in public libraries.

Vol. 16, Issue 40, Page 12

Published in Print: July 9, 1997, as Oracle Corp. Contributing $100 Million To Increase Technology for Schools
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