FCC CHAIRMAN REED HUNDT
EVANS MIDDLE SCHOOL, WASHINGTON D.C.
MAY 13, 1997
Good morning everybody.
I've had this job at the FCC for three years now. Before that, for 20 years I was a
lawyer. Before that, I had a respectable job --- as a teacher. In fact I was a teacher of social
studies in a middle school exactly like this particular middle school. At that middle school, we
didn't have books for every kid in the classroom, we didn't have maps, and we could not teach
current events from anything current because we did not have any of those resources.
So when we talk about the Internet, I think about that particular school and I think
about the way we can create an equality of opportunity in education in America by connecting
everyone to the library that is on the Internet today. Almost anything you want to learn about
and almost anything you want to teach is found on the Internet today. It is a library for the
whole world and anyone that would like the opportunity to click through the Internet or try to
teach from the Internet has found the material is all there.
The other day my ninth grade son told me he was reading a book on Dickens and had
left it at school. You can find the whole book right on the Internet. You can pull down the
exact text, you can search for words and use the material even though you might not have the
book in your library, or as in this case, he had left it in his locker in gym.
We have never before had this kind of equality of opportunity in education in this
country, and I honor all of you who are spreading equality and quality in education by putting
communications in every classroom in the country. The President of the United States in 1994
in his State of the Union Speech said that we had to do this by the end of this decade. A lot of
people in this country have been listening to that call and acting on it.
I particularly want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions in Washington, DC, of
General Julius Becton, Chairman and CEO of the District of Columbia public schools. All of
us who have lived in this area - and I grew up in this area, went to school in Washington and
lived here almost all of my almost fifty years of life - have never seen such leadership in this
school district and such leadership in this city, and I really compliment you, General Becton,
and I'm really happy to see what you're doing.
I also want to compliment Mr. Tom Pyle, Executive Director of the Network for
Instructional Television, and Mr. John Prisco, Chairman and CEO of CAI Wireless Systems,
for your charitable activities in providing computers and wireless communication equipment to
this school that offer these students high-speed wireless Internet access. It is the vision of what
your businesses could do for kids that has gotten us all together, and I'm very proud to see you
I want to thank Linda Roberts, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the
Department of Education, for being here with us. In particular, I'd like to thank her boss,
Education Secretary Richard Riley, for his leadership in all these areas.
Just last week, with the support of a lot of people in this room and with the support of
the President and the Vice President, we managed at the FCC to cast a very famous vote in our
Universal Service proceeding. We voted unanimously to spend in this country $4 billion each
year, forever, on communications in schools. Over the next five years this will average
$100,000 per school in the United States.
This is the biggest single program at the national level from grades K to 12 since we
invented public schools in this country. This is a very big thing.
Congress, under Senator Olympia Snowe and Senator John Rockefeller, asked that this
money be set aside specifically in every school for communications, and it's necessary that the
money be matched up with the money from the school system. So it is a matching grant
program and the $4 billion is a total of the match. Every single school in every single school
district, and the leaders of every single school district, need to come up with a matching
proposal to us. But you start with what you have.
If you've got $5 million - General Becton was telling me then he will give $5 million
for technology - that will match up with a larger sum from this national fund. We'll be in
close touch with General Becton and the DC schools because I think all of us realize the DC
school system should be the crown jewel of the American education system. This is where
foreigners come to visit and where the whole country has a lot of focus and attention. For a
long time we left this crown jewel covered with dust and tarnished and not subject to the kind
of attention it deserves.
But we are elevating the goal here day by day, week by week, month by month, and we
are going to achieve this particular result. We're going to have the best school system in the
world right here in DC, and we'll have a 21st Century school system right here in DC, and we
will be demonstrating that right here today in the computer room at Evans Middle School.
Thanks for inviting me.
- FCC -