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Thank you.

It is a great honor and privilege for me to be here today. Because today we are here to mark a very special day.

Today we are fulfilling a commitment to America's children -- all of America's children -- a commitment to give them the tools they need to compete in a global Information Age economy.

We are at a pivotal time in our history. Because today, at the dawn of the Information Age, technology is changing, in fundamental ways, the way we communicate, the way be do business, and the way our children learn.

And whether a child has a chance to learn to use technology increasingly defines what that child can become in our society.

Well, we are making the right choice today. We are making the choice to bring technology to all of our nation's schools. To every school and every library. We are making the right choice by making sure that even our poorest schools are not left behind. Left on the wrong side of the Information Highway.

In the history of education in this county we have always faced choices.

And there have been pivotal times when the choices we made have changed the course of education and the future of our Nation.

In the early part of this century, in my grandparents' time, the choice we faced was whether all children would have access to a free public education. There was a time in this country when education was a privilege for the wealthy. Well, courageous people in this country said no, education should be for everyone. And they started a movement in this country to make free public education a right for every child in America. We made the right choice for education. And that decision helped to make our country great

And in the middle part of this century, America faced another choice in education -- whether we would have racial equality in education. Or whether we would live with the cruel fiction that education would be separate but equal. Courageous people in this county said no, there should be racial equality in education. And they fought a revolution to bring racial justice to education. Those battles for racial equality in education changed our country, and certainly changed my life. We made the right choice for education. And we are stronger as a Nation because of it.

Well, we find ourselves at another pivotal moment in the history of education in our country. We face another momentous choice. We must decide whether all children, not only the suburban and the affluent. But all children. Children in rural America. Children on Indian reservations. Children in inner cities. Children in the Alaska bush country. All America's children will have equality of access to technology -- access to the tools they must have to compete in the Information Age.

And make no mistake about it. This choice is every bit as profound at the choices that have come before us. Every bit as profound as the choice we made for free public education, and to bring racial justice to education.

We are at a pivotal moment in the history of education in this country. But we are here to celebrate the fact that we are making the right choice. Because we are taking a stand to make sure that every child. Urban and rural. Rich and poor. Black and white and brown and yellow. All children. We're going to make sure that we are on the right side of history.

I feel very privileged to be a part of this and to mark this occasion. And I know that we would not be here today were it not for the vision and leadership of many people who got us to this place.

We are here today because Vice President Gore had the vision to bring equality of access to techology to all American. He had that vision before it was fashionable -- before the Internet, before the home computer, before Microsoft and Intel and Cisco Systems. And that is an amazing thing.

We are here today because people in the Congress, like Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snow and Bob Kerry and Ed Markey also believed in this vision and worked so hard to pass legislation to give the FCC the tools to create the schools and libraries funding mechanism.

We are here today because of the brilliance and tenacity of my predecessor, Reed Hundt. And the persistence and hard work of FCC Commissioner Susan Ness. And the steady hand of Dick Riley.

We are here today because the Edlinc coalition shared this vision. And they worked and organized and fought hard for the future of our kids.

I feel so very privileged to be here today to mark this wonderful occasion, and to celebrate this day and to thank all of the people who made this day happen.

The lives of a whole generation of America's kids will be changed by what we have done. We have made the right choice. And we are on the right side of history.

Now, I would like to introduce a man who was there from the beginning and who has been a source of wise counsel to me and the FCC throughout all of our efforts to implement the e-rate. He has been a wonderful partner and friend . . . a man who has shown unfailing devotion to the education of our children and our Nation's future. Ladies and gentlemen, our Secretary of Education, Dick Riley.