11 May, 2000

Contact: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456; mstepanovich@csub.edu


Educational Technology Alliance bridging the digital divide with first readiness center

CONTACT: Kathy Miller, communications manager, 661/589-5101
Angel Sanchez, executive director, 661/664-2409

BAKERSFIELD - Meeting President Clinton's recent call to action to close the digital divide, the Education Technology Alliance is initiating a collaborative effort by bringing major technology corporations and educational institutions together to fundamentally and systematically change the learning equation for all schools.

On Friday, May 19, at a news conference, Beardsley School District was designated as the Alliance's first Readiness Center, a demonstration site and model for successfully bridging the digital divide. Beardsley School District, located in an economically diverse section of Bakersfield, at 1001 Roberts Lane, has struggled to bring the advantages of technology to its students.

"The Alliance and our partners will collaborate to provide Beardsley School District and school districts throughout California with the necessary resources, expertise and support to successfully integrate technology into curriculum and classrooms," Alliance Executive Director Angel Sanchez said. "The goal is to equalize educational opportunities for all students - regardless of geography or economics - and destroy the technological barrier creating 'have' and 'have-not' schools."

Chris White, director of operations for Cisco Systems, Inc.; and Robert Iskander, director of worldwide business development of Sun Microsystems, spoke at the news conference and offered their companies' support to the collaborative effort. Leaders from additional corporate partners, including Pacific Bell, Apple Computers, iGeneration, LearningStation.com, Kiko, Inc.; PowerSchool, Inc.; Moss Bay Group, Inc.; Timecruiser, and Syncronex, Inc., were on hand to discuss the challenges of and their role in bridging the digital divide. They demonstrated web-based applications and shared strategies for assisting schools.

In addition to major corporate leaders, the Alliance's efforts are supported by educational partners, The California State University Chancellor's Office, California State University, Bakersfield, the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, and the Corporation for Educational Network Initiatives in California. A close working relationship between higher education and the K-12 system is essential to reducing the digital divide, Sanchez said.

"For today's students to be adequately prepared for success in tomorrow's economy, technology must reach our schools and classrooms," Sanchez said. "In California alone, it is estimated that more than 4,000 schools encompassing 2.7 million students - more than 40 percent of the state's total - have no Internet connectivity and classroom network infrastructure. These students are at risk of entering the workforce under-skilled, ill prepared, undervalued, and therefore, unable to effectively compete. Building bridges across the expanding digital divide is critical to securing stability for the future of economy and country."

CSUB President Tomas Arciniega also addressed the news conference, affirming CSUB's commitment to helping bridge the digital divide. He also praised Sanchez for his work in forming the corporate and educational coalition that is the Alliance. "Let me state the obvious when I say that Angel Sanchez has done a magnificent job," Arciniega said.

The Education Technology Alliance is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the technological development of K-12 school districts. Using the rich diversity and global economy of California as a model, the Alliance partners will initiate a variety of targeted activities, including the expansion of educational network infrastructures and Internet connectivity, the development of technical support centers, the creation of web application and content providers, the expansion of e-learning and teacher training programs, and the continuation of policy and evaluation research.