Gore plugs e-rate, praises Web in speech

Summary:LOS ANGELES -- Vice President Al Gore said this morning that the Clinton administration is firmly committed to the "e-rate" plan to give Internet subsidies to poor schools.Gore also announced a new digital TV initiative in a speech via satellite to the White House-sponsored Conference on Digital Media Content for Children and Teens here in L.

LOS ANGELES -- Vice President Al Gore said this morning that the Clinton administration is firmly committed to the "e-rate" plan to give Internet subsidies to poor schools.

Gore also announced a new digital TV initiative in a speech via satellite to the White House-sponsored Conference on Digital Media Content for Children and Teens here in L.A.

The FCC is expected to vote today on whether to decrease funding for the e-rate program, which subsidizes Internet access at schools and libraries in disadvantaged areas.

So far some 30,000 communities have applied for the subsidies, according to the FCC. Gore said that even if the plan is approved by the FCC, it faces opposition in Congress.

'All children online'
"We will fight any effort by Congress to end the e-rate program," Gore said. "We need to put all of our children online, which means putting aside politics offline."

Gore also said the administration has earmarked $450 million to help public television stations make the transition from analog to digital transmissions, saying the funding would boost interactive learning programs that combine the Internet and TV broadcasts.

"Digital television will have a tremendous impact on learning," he said.

Praises Internet
Citing research showing that youngsters in classrooms equipped with computers outperform their peers in basic skills by 30 percent, Gore said "the Internet is not a luxury or a diversion," but an essential tool for learning.

"I encourage you to think of more ways to provide kids with green spaces and safe havens on the Net where they can roam and thrive," Gore said.

The audience of some 200 educators and technology industry officials interrupted Gore's address several times with applause.

As he spoke from Monterey, Calif., where he was attending a conference on environmental issues, Gore's voice was briefly drowned out by the sound of a helicopter that he said was bringing President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton to the conference.

This week's White House-sponsored conference on kids' Web content, the third in a series of summits on Internet issues, wraps up here this afternoon. A similar event is scheduled for Washington, D.C., later this month.

Topics: Nasa / Space

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