Steven Clift on Wed, 1 Apr 1998 01:50:58 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Reed Hundt - Better - WSJ Article

[Also sent to; organization: Democracies Online]

E-MAIL FOR ALL - An Outreach Campaign of the Markle Foundation
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Enclosed is an article written by Reed Hundt, former Chair of the 
Federal Communications Commission and member of the Markle 
Foundation's E-Mail for All Advisory Board.

The "Better" commentary appeared in the Tuesday, 
March 31, 1998 Editorial section of the Wall Street Journal.  You are 
encouraged to distribute this article to others who are interested in 
the use of e-mail in education.  

Comments on the article and general suggestions related to the topic 
of broad e-mail access and use by students, teachers, and parents in 
education may sent to the E-Mail for All staff at:

For more information on the E-Mail for All outreach effort, please 
visit the web site at:

The full text of the article:

Wall Street Journal
Editorial Section - Commentary
March 31, 1998



More than 40,000 schools have applied for money from the
Federal Communications Commission's new universal service
fund, which will send $625 million their way this year. This
is just the beginning of about $13 billion that the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorizes be collected and
spent on education and rural health care over the next five
years. Where can this money make the biggest difference? Not
in paying for cutting-edge technologies. We can bring about
vast improvements in how our children are educated with
nothing more complicated or expensive than e-mail.

The most important people in a child's life--teachers and
parents--hardly ever talk to one another. Normally they meet
twice a year at most. Other than that, there isn't much more
than a report card and the occasional note sent home. The
typical message in the other direction is a note for the
teacher with an excuse for homework that hasn't been
completed. That's about it.

Teachers and parents should have a great deal to say to one
another. But they have trouble communicating because it is
so difficult for them to make a rendezvous. Teachers don't
have telephones in their classrooms or time in their day to
place calls. And working parents may not be available to
talk on the phone or in person unless there is a true

E-mail is a perfect solution, for it will let parents and
teachers have a conversation when it's convenient for both
parties. More advanced technologies--like databases and
computer modeling--will also have an impact on the nation's
classrooms, but simple e-mail between parents and teachers
will change the dynamic of parent-teacher-student relations,
and can bring systemic changes to the educational system.
This would be a giant step away from mass education toward
mass individualization, in which the educational system
could recognize and address the needs of particular
students. Teachers could even e-mail homework assignments to
parents, which would allow them to better supervise their
youngsters in the evening.

E-mail in the schools can also change teacher-to-teacher
relations. Teachers are in classrooms most of the day and
generally interact with one another only during breaks from
their duties. As a result, observations of changes in a
child's behavior are seldom shared among members of the
community of adults who see that child every day.

So as Congress prepares to receive the first FCC report on
how the universal service money will be spent, let's not get
sidetracked by oversight issues or caught up in the
technologies of tomorrow. E-mail, which is available today,
is the "killer application" that can vastly improve the
quality of American education.

Mr. Hundt is a former chairman of the FCC and an advisory
board member of the Markle Foundation.

Copyright c 1998 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights 
Reserved.  Redistributed as published with the permission
of the author. 

--                                                          --

The E-MAIL FOR ALL outreach campaign is an integral part of 
the Markle Foundation's work to encourage the use of new
communications technologies for socially beneficial purposes.

E-MAIL FOR ALL - An Outreach Campaign of the Markle Foundation
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