What Are You Doing Labor Day?

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An open letter to Vice President Gore and the Secretaries of Education and Commerce:

Each of you is acutely aware of the importance of a technologically literate workforce to America's future competitiveness. If you don't have plans for Sept. 6, 1999, Labor Day, read on.

I have shopped this idea across America for nearly a year to audiences of nodding heads. And, yes, even unsolicited applause. It is really quite simple.

What I am advocating is that the three of you appear together on Labor Day this year and issue all 5 million CEOs and business owners in our country the following challenge: Follow us into the elementary or high school of your choice on April 10, 2000, and participate in our nation's first "National Bring a CEO to School Day."

The Labor Day announcement would accompany the unveiling of a World Wide Web site where any chief executive officer in America could sign up for a two-hour visit with a school principal. The goal of the visit would be to begin a bilateral, long-term process in which the CEO could mentor the principal in areas of competitiveness and accountability, and the principal could show the CEO or business owner that there is more to life than shareholder equity and meeting the payroll. And that's not all.

Mr. Vice President, you would encourage the principal to give the CEO a tour of the school during that visit and challenge the CEO to ask himself or herself the following questions:

(1) Could your company compete in its industry with technology akin to what you see installed at this school?

(2) Could your company compete if eight workers had to share one computer? (This is the current student-to-computer ratio in America.)

(3) Could your company compete if every office didn't have at least one telephone outlet for Internet access? (While most schools in America do have Internet access, only 27 percent of classrooms do.)

And the last part of the day would be a call to action. International Data Corp. reports that U.S. businesses will spend over $370 billion on technology in the year 2000. You, Mr. Vice President, would challenge CEOs and business owners at the conclusion of their tours to consider making a contribution. This donation, a voluntary, tax-deductible amount equaling one-half of 1 percent of their firms' technology budgets in 2000, would go to a special fund called the National Education Technology Trust Fund.

What are we asking for? About $5 on every $1,000 a company spends on technology.

What are we asking for? About $5 on every $1,000 a company spends on technology. At full participation, this proposal could raise over $1.5 billion annually for America's schools to study the deployment of or actively install technology in classrooms--a worthy national goal. Groups such as the United States Tech Corps (, a nonprofit organization I started several years ago, would monitor the fund. Disbursement of funds to schools would be contingent on one simple criterion: the submission and approval of a school's three-year technology plan by the directors of the National Education Technology Trust Fund.

Each of you is aware of the importance of America's nurturing a 21st-century workforce that is technologically fluent. Please join me in getting this idea off the ground. You can reach me at the telephone number or e-mail address below.

Gary J. Beach is the publisher of CIO Magazine in Framingham, Mass. He can be reached by phone at (508) 935-4202, and online at [email protected].

Vol. 18, Issue 41, Page 50

Published in Print: June 23, 1999, as What Are You Doing Labor Day?
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