To keep up with the times, there are new tools that are needed to help children succeed. In order to become fully functioning participants in American society, sufficient knowledge of technology and computers has become a prerequisite.
In fact, it is projected that by the year 2000, 60% of jobs will require computer and/or networking capability and provide 10 - 15% pay premium over jobs that do not require these skills.
We need our children to become computer literate, we need our children to understand technology, and we need to give them the opportunity to compete and succeed in the next millennium.
Along those lines, I announced in January in the State of the City Address a major educational initiative called Project Smart Schools. Today I'm pleased to announce those plans are fast becoming a reality in our city's schools.
The city, the Board of Education, with the essential leadership of Chancellor Crew and his staff, along with the business community, have built a partnership that will implement a $150 million initiative to bring computer technology to every school.
The Board of Education has selected grades 6 - 8 to initiate Project Smart Schools. These grades provide the best opportunity to utilize and enhance the basic skills mastered in the lower grades through developing the technological competence vital to the workplace and college environment that the high schools prepare our students for.
Therefore, the plan we are announcing today outlines the necessary steps to bring technology to grade 6 - 8 classrooms.
Because middle schools house almost exclusively grades 6 - 8 classrooms, the plan will concentrate on bringing technology to these buildings first, and will then provide technology to those grades 6 - 8 classrooms located in elementary schools.
Currently, the plan consists of two tracks. The goal of the first will be to deploy an average of four computers, a printer and other additional equipment up to ten classrooms in all middle schools by as early as September, 1997, and to the grades 6 - 8 classrooms in all elementary schools by late 1997 or early 1998. This will mean that by September 1997, we will have installed 7,000 computers in the city's public school system, and by late this year, over 10,000 computers will have been installed.
Additionally, at least on internet connection will be provided to convenient locations such as a teachers' lounge or library in each school. This will enable teachers to access information and make it available to students in their classrooms.
And as more funds are made available, the process of connecting individual classrooms to the internet will also take effect.
Additional wiring, however, is required in order to distribute technology to the balance of the classrooms in the middle schools, and if necessary to the grades 6 - 8 classrooms in the elementary schools. Accordingly, the second track of the plan which will also begin this summer will focus on performing this wiring and other infrastructural upgrades. As wiring proceeds in the classrooms, more equipment will also be installed.
We are also creating task forces to advance the integration of technology in grades k - 5 and 9 - 12 as rapidly as possible.
Critical to this effort is a massive training program for teachers to ensure they are properly prepared to integrate computer technology into their daily curriculum. This training will also begin during the summer months.
Computer skills are a necessary tool for future success in the workforce, but they can also enhance a student's success at school. Computers help to deepen a child's critical and creative thinking, and this in turn can significantly improve their reading, writing, and mathematical skills.
Indeed, it will allow our children to enter the 21st century as prepared, if not better prepared, than their counterparts throughout the world.