2,000 California schools get wired
Net Day connects students to cyberspace
March 9, 1996
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Rusty Dornin
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- More than 2,000 schools in California are plugging into the Internet this weekend as part of Net Day, a one-day concerted effort to connect as many schools as possible in the state to the information highway.
President Clinton, who along with vice-president Al Gore visited a school in Concord, California, to kick off Net Day, likened the event to an "old-fashioned barn-raising."
More than 20,000 volunteers from around the state donated eight hours each to lay 6 million feet of cable in an attempt to wire 20 percent of California's estimated 13,000 schools. Phone companies donated writing kits.
Clinton and Gore donned work duds and helped connect cables to computers, while students clambered onto the ceiling to do some of the more physically demanding tasks.
Clinton said California hoped to have every school "wired to the future" within the next four years, and said he wanted the revolution to go beyond the state's borders as well.
Clinton has proposed creating a $2 billion federal fund to help bring computer technology into all classrooms in the United States by the year 2000.
"We must bring the information and technology revolution to every, every classroom in America."
-- President Clinton
Net Day co-creator John Gage of Sun Microsystems said the project was possible in part because the technology had become so cheap.
Still, not all schools can afford to get on-line. For instance, Wren Avenue Elementary, like many other California schools, is barely able to pay its electricity bills.
For now, says principal Joan Evans, the school's roofs take precedence over any electrical work -- or computers.
Hailing from Bosnia, 15-year-old student Goran Alickovich says wiring schools gives students a great advantage. He sometimes takes a trip back home via the 'Net.
"If every school that has Netscape, kids can explore the whole world and go anywhere they want ... It's fun," Alickovich says.
The cost to connect the entire state to the Web could run into billions, and not everyone believes sending students into cyberspace is worth the cost.
Critics argue money should be spent on teachers instead of computers, and there's disagreement on how much wiring the nation's schools will cost. The Clinton administration estimates $10 billion dollars; other experts predict it will cost as much as $50 billion.
"We should have equal attention on providing quality classroom teachers and quality class experience. Those things can't be produced by computers, software and machinery."
-- Jeremy Rifkin, author of 'The End of Work'
But for many students, it's one way to go far beyond the classroom walls.
Sikander Shaikh says he's amazed at the seemingly limitless reach of the Net:
"You can search for presidents or anything in the whole world."
- Thousands of California schools join 'Net community this weekend
- Readin', writin', and surfin'
- College admissions go on line
- Earn a degree on-line at 'Internet U'
FeedbackSend us your comments.
Selected responses are posted daily.
Copyright © 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.