Internet weekend Wiring public schools: State program needs volunteers to bring computers to classrooms.

September 25, 1996

"IF OUR children do not know how to use computers, we will be preparing them for welfare and unemployment." That's how Gov. Parris Glendening put it when announcing a plan to "wire" NTC 640 public schools in a single weekend toward an eventual goal of seeing that every Maryland school can prepare students for the Computer Age.

It is an ambitious undertaking that deserves strong civic support. Starting Friday, Sept. 27, volunteers will work in shifts in these schools until Sunday morning -- 43 hours -- to make sure each one of them has five classrooms and a media center wired for computer connections. Each school will receive two computers, two monitors, two modems and at least 100 free hours of Internet access.

These are schools in impoverished or overlooked areas or in cash-strapped counties. Their students are the ones most in danger of being left behind without computer skills.

Half of the schools being wired that weekend are in Baltimore City and Prince George's County; 40 corporations and institutions have pledged $500,000 for hardware, software and equipment; 2,000 volunteers have signed up.

But this is far short of the goal of 4,000 to 6,000 participants. Volunteers -- even computer illiterates -- are vital. By simply holding ladders or lugging equipment, these citizens will help save $5 million in labor costs. The result will be of lasting value for kids.

Children with no previous exposure to computers or the Internet will learn skills needed in tomorrow's job market -- on-line conferences, e-mail, locating and retrieving data on the World Wide Web. A vast, global library will be a keystroke away.

This is part of a five-year plan to wire and equip 702 schools and to train teachers on making computers and the Internet "student-friendly." It opens up broad new vistas for these kids and puts Maryland on the fast lane of the Information Highway. If you want to participate, call 888-828-2468 (toll free). It's one way to make a difference in your part of the world.

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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