THE WHITE HOUSE|
Office of the Press Secretary
(East Palo Alto, California)
For Immediate Release
April 17, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN DIGITAL DIVIDE DISCUSSION
WITH THE EAST PALO ALTO COMMUNITY
East Palo Alto, California
9:07 A.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: You all sit down. Good morning. I want to thank
Mayor Wilson for making us welcome today. And thank you, Magda Escobar
for all you have done. I also want to recognize some other people who
are here with us today. Reverend Jackson, thank you for coming.
(Applause.) Carly Fiorina, the President of Hewlett-Packard; and Robert
Knowling, the President of Covad, thank you for being here. (Applause.)
Rebecca Lobo, thank you for being here. We're glad to see you.
I'd like to also acknowledge the presence in the audience of
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo; the Chairman of
the Federal Communications Commission Bill Kennard; and many members of
Congress -- Representative Zoe Lofgren, Representative John Conyers,
Representative Bill Jefferson, Representative Barbara Lee,
Representative Silvestre Reyes, Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones,
Representative Anna Eshoo -- I think that's all the members of Congress
who are here.
I'd like to thank Gene Sperling and Maria Eschaveste. And I want
to recognize especially the man who helped us avoid the Y2K problem, a
distinguished Republican Senator from Utah, Bob Bennett. Thank you for
coming, Senator Bennett. We're glad to see you. (Applause.)
I'd also like to thank all the civil rights leaders who are here,
the high-tech CEOs, the foundation directors. And I'd like to thank
Julian Lacey who is here for helping us kick off our national call to
action for digital opportunity. I know that all of you know Julian.
Thank you. (Applause.)
I want to thank AOL for web casting today's event live. And I'd
like to say a special word of appreciation to one person who is not here
who helped us to develop our entire approach to closing the digital
divide, Vice President Al Gore. I thank him as well. (Applause.)
Now, I will be brief because I want to get on to the questions.
But I want to tell you why we're here. This is a very fortunate time
for our country. We have the strongest economy in history. We have the
lowest African American and Hispanic unemployment rates our country has
ever recorded, and the lowest female unemployment rate in 40 years. But
we all know there are people and places that have not fully participated
in this new economy.
I have been to a lot of those places on my digital divide tour -- I
mean, my New Markets tours -- because I see these places as places of
opportunity, places of new markets. If we can create new employees, new
businesses, new jobs, new opportunities, we can keep the American
economy going. This is one of those fortunate times when, by doing the
thing that is morally right, we actually help to keep America's economic
expansion churning forward. It's going to take the efforts of
government, business and the community sector to succeed.
This is our third New Markets tour. When I leave you, I'm going to
Northern New Mexico, to the Shiprock Navajo Reservation. And tomorrow
I'll be in Chicago, meeting with representatives of every aspect of the
high-tech industry in America. I wanted to begin here in East Palo Alto
-- (applause) -- because even here in Silicon Valley, there are many
people who could be left behind, and because you're doing so much to
make sure you're not left behind. And we ought to be giving a helping
I don't think there is a better place in America to show what can
be done to reach out to our children who are at risk of falling behind.
We can see that here at Plugged In, at the Silican Valley Project, at
the new Cisco Sun Academy, where graduates are virtually assured of good
jobs that pay up to $70,000 a year. In a few minutes, I will announce
some other things that corporate leaders here today are prepared to do
to help this city on the move, move even faster.
Let me just briefly ask you to remember the history of this
community. One hundred and fifty years ago, East Palo Alto got its
start as a community called Ravenswood. Ravenswood was a good candidate
to become the last stop on the transcontinental railway, something that
was very important in the Industrial Age. Unfortunately, plans changed,
the railroad bypassed Ravenswood altogether, and it was a decision that
had repercussions for the people who lived in this community for a
century or more.
Today, we're in another time of fundamental economic
transformation, but we can do it very differently because, unlike the
railroads of the Industrial Age, the trade routes of the Information Age
can run through every city, every town, every community. And, in fact,
the more communities they run through, the better it works.
No one has to be bypassed this time around. The choice is in our
hands. We can use new technology to extend opportunity to more
Americans than ever before; we can truly move more people out of poverty
more rapidly than ever before, or we can allow access to new technology
to heighten economic inequality and sharpen social division.
Again, I say, the choice is ours. But I want to reiterate a point
I made earlier. The truth is that doing the right thing will accelerate
the strength of this powerful economic engine. (Applause.) Every
economist knows that new technologies will continue to drive rapid
economic growth only if they continue to spread to all sectors of our
I have made closing this digital divide a big priority. It is a
big priority in our budget and a big priority for trying to enlist the
energies of our fellow citizens. That's why I issued a national call to
action, to enlist the support of businesses, state and local
governments, community groups, foundations, schools and volunteers.
Already, more than 400 organizations have signed on to our call.
To reach these broad national goals, all of us are going to have to
do our part. In addition to our $2.25 billion e-rate initiative, which
allows us to hook up every school and library in the country to the
Internet, including those who can't afford it on their own -- (applause)
-- and our new $450 million Technology Literacy Challenge, which helps
to provide to poor areas -- the computers, the software, the teacher
training and the Internet access that's so important. I'm asking
Congress for $100 million for community technology centers like Plugged
In --(applause) -- $150 million to help train all new teachers to use
the technology and the Internet in the classroom -- (applause) -- and $2
billion in new tax incentives for computer donations and contributions
to our schools, our libraries and community technology centers.
But the important announcement is the one I want to make today.
Corporations in this area have committed over $100 million to help you
do what you do best. Gateway will provide technology training to 75,000
teachers, including every single teacher here in East Palo Alto.
(Applause.) Novell will donate $20 million in software for nonprofit
organizations devoted to helping underserved Hispanic organizations.
(Applause.) Hewlett-Packard will invest $15 million in a new digital
village initiative to help three underserved communities, starting here
in East Palo Alto. (Applause.)
Qualcomm is giving back to the city where it's based, San Diego,
with a $25 million commitment, including $7 million -- this is important
-- to improve math and science education among all of our young people.
(Applause.) Power Up, a partnership of AOL, Gateway and several other
companies that bring technology to young people in schools and community
centers, is going to expand from 19 to 250 sites nationwide.
AmeriCorps, a strong partner of Power Up, will assign 400 of our young
volunteers to work at these sites. AOL is going to provide 100,000
accounts for use at these sites, a commitment worth $26 million every
Applied Materials has pledged a million dollars for projects such
as a new high-tech job training center for the people of East Palo Alto.
(Applause.) And they are going to be in partnership with the city and
with Reverend Jackson's Rainbow Push coalition, which has an office
right around the corner here. (Applause.) I promised Jesse, I would
promote his job site too, you see, around the corner.
AT&T is committing $1.2 million to support the Academy of
Information Technology, which is dedicated to helping high school
students prepare for high-paying jobs in the high-tech industry. Cisco
will invest $1.4 million to expand its Cisco Network Academy Program to
10 more under-served communities. People PC has agreed to donate 300
new multimedia computers to the East Palo Alto Schools. (Applause.)
I want to thank all these corporations and all their leaders for
their new commitments and I want to thank Covad for leading an effort to
increase minority participation in the high tech industry. We are
nowhere near where we ought to be on that. (Applause.)
Now, the commitments of governments and corporations are only part
of the equation. The rest requires motivation and that's what I want us
all to focus on for the rest of our time here. Frankly, all the
computers and software and Internet connections in the world won't do
much good if young people don't understand that access to new technology
means access to new learning opportunities, new job opportunities, new
entrepreneurial opportunities -- access to the new economy.
That's why I am very pleased that the Kaiser Family Foundation is
going to create a major public service campaign to inspire young people
to get on computers and get on line. The ads will air on NBC, ABC, CBS,
Fox, BET, Univision, MTV, The Cartoon Network and other major channels.
They will feature Magic Johnson and Rebecca Lobo, who will highlight new
technologies and the fact that they're not only fun, they can open a lot
of doors in life. Bet.com will also air their own PSAs, encouraging
African Americans to use the Internet and participate. Let's give them
all a hand. That's great. (Applause.)
Now, let me just say this. I want to thank the people at Plugged
In again, Magda and all the others. Places like this can change lives
forever. You come in, learn how to design web pages or set up networks
or just how to use the Internet as a tool for discovery. That gives you
the power to control your future.
I want to show you something. If you haven't done this, I want to
urge you all to take a look at the classifieds from yesterday's San Jose
Mercury News. There are 10,000 technology-related jobs advertised in
this paper. If they could be held by every unemployed and underemployed
person in East Palo Alto, this would be a better country today.
(Applause.) So whether it's finding a high-tech job or serving as a
teacher or just being a more effective parent, every young person needs
to know how to use this technology. It will serve you well, no matter
what you do.
Now I'd like to begin our discussion by asking Rebecca Lobo a
question that I hope will help us to understand what's involved here in
getting young people to actually commit themselves to becoming
A lot of people, Rebecca, across the country look up to you because
-- you're tall. (Laughter.) And they also look up to you because
you're a great basketball player, a great human being and, therefore, a
great role model. They see the life you have; they'd like to have a
career in professional sports. But a lot of kids have to find their
stardom somewhere else -- there are only so many people who can make it
in sports, but everybody can make it in life. So I'd like to know how
you would speak to children to try to persuade them how to become
technologically literate, why they should master computers and the
Internet. What would your message be?
MS. LOBO: My message to kids all the time -- generally, they ask
questions about basketball, but it's to follow their dreams, because
whatever their dreams are, they can come true. Generally, all kids just
want to be successful and they want to have an opportunity to be
successful. And now the Internet is the way to be able to find the
success that they want, to achieve the dreams that they want. And they
just need the opportunities to be able to get on the Internet, to have
access to the Internet, to have people showing them how to use it so
that they can pursue whatever dream it is -- they can find information
about whatever job or whatever career -- whether it's sports or anything
that they want to pursue.
And one thing that's been exciting for me -- I'm on the Internet
all the time -- through wmba.com, kids can ask me questions. And I try
to answer all of my e-mails and I think it's a pretty cool thing when a
kid is doing a report in school, and they're doing a report on me and
they have a question. And so they e-mail it to me and they get it right
from the source, the answer.
But you go out and you encourage these kids and let them know how
much fun the Internet can be. And you want people to pursue their
passions. I've been fortunate to be able to follow my dream and make a
living doing what I love to do. And you want all people to have that
opportunity and you want to encourage these kids, that they can find
that opportunity and have that access through the Internet. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Is it on? I'm still technologically challenged,
right? (Laughter.) I want to ask Reverend Jackson a question. You've
been involved in the civil rights revolution all your life. We were
just in Selma together. When Dr. King died, he was moving the civil
rights revolution to a new stage, the stage of economic opportunity.
And you have spent most of the last 30-plus years trying to extend that
opportunity to people who have been left out and left behind. What do
you think this new technology means to your prospects of succeeding at
the work of the last 30 years?
REVEREND JACKSON: First of all, let me take the liberty to say,
Mr. President, that you're taking the message to the people, taking
light to dark places, coming to Selma, to Appalachia, to East Palo Alto.
This is the quality of leadership our nation deserves. We must really
thank you for that. Thank you for that. (Applause.)
When Dr. King looked at the Great Divide in 1955, he knew it was
the enlightened energy of young America that could change the course.
And so when Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, he said
better that we walk in dignity than walk in shame, young America came
alive. At that time, the White House didn't move, the Congress didn't
move. Young America came alive. In 1960, four students sat in to get
hamburgers; they got handcuffs and they were threatened expulsion from
school. They chose dignity over dollars and degrees. Young America
We now have a public accommodations bill, the right to vote, all
because young America came alive. And thus, those who would be free
must strike the first blow. Literally ,at that time, we were in a
social revolution and we changed laws. We are now in a cultural
revolution and young people must bring forth a new energy. I would say,
to use one poet, Gene Sperling's language, shift from high tops to
laptop, in terms of what's important. Because you can get your high
tops from your laptop and you cannot get your laptop from your high
tops, in terms of what is important to young America.
We are going to do a conference out here May 1st through 3rd, the
Rainbow Push. And I must say the first thing -- we are going to meet
with 3,000 youth from East Palo Alto and San Jose and energize them, and
Carly Fiorina and Bob are here about computers -- so we must make this
the mass, stylish, the thing-to-do movement. We are also going to
organize a thousand churches. We want the churches to put laptops and
computers in their Sunday school rooms, so churches can be after-school
homework centers for our youth, and make this a mass movement for
students and parents and preachers.
I am convinced, when I look at people like Magic Johnson and Isaiah
Thomas -- when these young people grasp this -- and they are now -- I
hope we're closing the gap real fast with those who have the energy to
make it happen. And I see young America catching on. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to ask a question of Carly Fiorina.
One of the things that bothers me about being President is that I can --
I'm a fairly high energy person so I can go to a place like East Palo
Alto and we can get everybody together and we can get all these
commitments and people can follow through on their commitments. But I'm
always worried that somehow there will be a gap between this moment and
when people's lives really change. And I would like to know what you
think it will really take for the investment revolution to permeate this
community and others like it to the extent that we really will be able
to guarantee equal opportunity to all these kids, if they master the
fundamentals of the information revolution.
MS. FIORINA: Well, first, I would say, Mr. President, that you are
correct. As wonderful as it is that you come here today, what it's
really about is all of the commitments that preceded your visit and all
of the commitments that will follow your visit.
There are, however, I think three basic laws in the high-tech
industry today -- laws that I think represent opportunity for those who
will learn and have access to the technology. One fundamental law is
that the high-tech industry is in a constant war for talent. We don't
have enough people with enough skills. That will continue to be the
case for many, many, many, many years to come because this is a growth
industry and there is no end to that growth in sight.
So whether it is Covad or Novell or Cisco or Sun or Hewlett-Packard
or any of the other companies that are here in Silicon Valley, all of us
worry first and foremost about finding enough talent. That's the first
The second law is that technology -- information technology and the
Internet can be the great equalizer. The Internet and information
technology can erase the barriers of time and distance, and yes, the
barriers of prejudice, as well, because if people have the tools, if
people have the skills, if people have the access, they represent the
talent that this industry needs.
And the third law is that without those tools, without that access,
without those skills, the divide becomes greater and greater and
greater. And so I really think it is about communities and corporations
and government working together to make sure that people have access to
the tools and the technology, access to training, access to skills. But
rest assured, the industry needs people who have these skills. It's
worth the effort to learn because it can change lives in dramatic ways,
but the need for the skill is there and that need for skill will last
for many, many decades to come. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let me just say -- I just want to
follow up on something. I want you to think about this. We're all
sitting here talking about this -- with 10,000 job vacancies being
advertised in the paper yesterday in this area. If we don't do this
now, when are we ever going to get around to it? Do you think we'd be
having this meeting if the unemployment rate were 10 percent in America,
or 10 percent in California? This is the time we've got to do this.
We're back in Washington today debating legislation about how much
-- not whether, but how much -- we have to raise the cap on visas to
bring in people from other countries who are trained in these skills.
And I'm pro-immigration. I'm all for this. We've got to do it, we've
got to keep these industries going. We've got to do the right thing.
But I'm also trying to make sure when we do it, we get more investments
to train people here to do those jobs. Because you can do it.
And I just want to say something to the local folks here and to the
kids who are here. You've got to decide whether you believe
intelligence is equally distributed in this world; I do -- whether you
believe ability is equally distributed; I do. I mean, not for
everything. I couldn't play basketball like Rebecca. But everybody can
do something, and everybody can learn this.
I just got back from India, a country with a per-capita income of
$450 a year. And I was in a poor village where I saw women who were
almost illiterate, never even been given a privilege of going to school,
getting on computers, calling up their government's web page, getting
information about how to take care of their newborn babies, in remote
villages because they had a computer with a good printer to take the
software -- give it to them, they could take it home.
This can change the way the world works, and it can save you and
your children from having to wait 30 years to move into the mainstream.
It can be done in a matter of months or a year. But you have to believe
it, and you have to take advantage of it. And if we can't do it where
there's 10,000 job vacancies in the paper, we will never get around to
I would like to ask Bob Knowling to talk a little bit about -- to
be more specific here. What kind of job opportunities are available for
minorities, for example, who may come from poor homes or poor
neighborhoods or poor communities, if they get the skills and the
training they need? And what do you think is the most important thing
they could do and we could do to bridge this gap?
MR. KNOWLING: Thank you, Mr. President. The jobs, quite frankly,
they cover the waterfront, and there are technicians that can design web
sites become software developers; there are a number of IT personnel
that are needed in the industry. The jobs truly, they scan the
The issue, I believe, however is all the things that we've heard
today. But there are some other issues that also need to be addressed.
And I, for one, thank the President of this country for his leadership
in terms of providing these forums and becoming a catalyst for change.
In some work that I've been doing with the ITAA, which is trying to
at least address the issue of how come we don't have more women and
people of color in these high-tech jobs -- if you think about the number
of students that are taking the math and science courses, computer
science courses, engineering, there is a disproportionate number of them
that get through the educational system and the process, but they don't
end up in the jobs. And you have to ask yourself the question, why not.
And while there may be 10,000 jobs in the San Jose paper this past
weekend, I'm convinced that the last, at least, frontier for this issue
is that business must quit lip service and provide the job and give the
It seems to me that if you just look at this little scenario I
painted for you, why don't they end up in the jobs? Is the issue they
don't have the intellectual capacity? Is the issue they haven't had the
right grades? Well, I am a firm believer, as the President just said,
that this is not about genetics, it's all about environment. And we
still live in a country where we don't value difference. We still live
in a country where the open access is not there.
I just recently finished a meeting with Hydra-- where they were
telling me they had over a hundred CEO jobs in the high-tech sector that
they're trying to fill. Well, as we move down into organizations and
get to the middle-level jobs and the entry-level jobs, this problem just
So what I hope that will happen because, basically, what the
President just said is this is sort of like Sunday service -- we go to
church on Sunday, and when he comes here it's sort of like the Sunday
morning message and we all feel good, we all leave here very pumped up,
committed, et cetera. But then Monday morning comes, and by the time we
get to Friday we forgot everything that he just told us and we're right
back to Sunday, needing some more renewal.
So my hope is that when he will leave here today, we will stop the
lip service about access and we will open the doors and embrace --
because the people are out there. Covad Communication -- this is not a
commercial --is filling jobs. We are filling jobs at every level. We
need more talent.
And I guess at the end of the day it surprises me somewhat, but
coming from a family of 13 and being poor all my life, I never thought
I'd get to the day where I would not consider myself a role model. But
I am extremely encouraged that folks like Rebecca and Magic Johnson are
going to go on the public service airways and show kids that it's cool
to be high-tech. Because when they see folks who they admire, they see
people that they've looked up to -- if they can see them embracing
technology, you will get a kid who's in the 3rd and 4th grade saying,
you know what, maybe I should go to class, maybe I should study the
math, maybe I should become plugged in. Because I believe if they can
see the right kind of role models, kids will want to stay in the
discipline and I do believe the jobs are there.
So let's hope that we cannot disappoint the President and the next
time he comes here there's not 10,000 jobs in the paper, but there's
only a few jobs in the paper. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good deal.
Q Mr. President, we have a question from a child in the
THE PRESIDENT: All right. There's somebody in the audience?
Q Good morning, Mr. President. I am nine years old. My
question is, what do you use your computer for and what do you use the
Internet for. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you what, you know what I did? At
Christmastime I actually ordered Christmas presents with the computer.
I confess, I don't use it much for e-mail, but that's for very personal
reasons. When I want to talk to my daughter, for example, I get on the
phone and call her. If you work for the government, you don't use
e-mail very much unless you want it all in the newspaper. (Laughter.)
So I mostly use -- and the other thing I do is I try to find new
sites. When I hear about something new, I try to get onto it. For
example, when I learned that now up to 30,000 people were making a
living off e-Bay -- I'm always reluctant to give one company a free
commercial here -- and that a lot of them had once been on welfare, I
wanted to look at it and figure out how were these people making a
So, for me, I'm almost like you, I'm still trying to learn about
all this and I'm so interested in what its possibilities are. But the
only thing I get personal benefit out of is shopping, because it's hard
for me to move around very much. (Laughter.)
Let me say, I also wanted to thank -- I forgot to say something --
I wanted to thank the Costano Elementary Choir. They sang before I got
here. So let's give them a big hand. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Q Our event is also being broadcast live over the Internet
courtesy of AOL. Internet questions are being submitted by young people
from 17 locations across the country.
The question is from Jefferson Elementary School, we have
Christine. What can we as students do to help attract high-tech
industries into our area?
THE PRESIDENT: You should answer that.
MS. FIORINA: Well, high-tech industries go where there are a
couple fundamentals. They go where there is a pool of skilled labor.
They go where the education system will continue to develop that pool of
skilled labor. They go where the tax systems encourage their
participation and they go where transportation systems can enable their
growth. And if those enablers are there, high-tech industries in search
of talent will come. But it starts with education and talented pool of
REVEREND JACKSON: Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, Jesse. Let me just answer that question
real quick, though, because this is important. People ask me this all
The truth is, everything Carly said is right. Therefore, if you
really want high-tech jobs in your area and you don't have them, you
need to examine your school system and then get someone who understands
all these factors that she just mentioned, to come into your community
and help you develop a specific plan for all the changes you need to
make to get it done. This is not something that can be done in a
speech. I used to do this for a living when I was a governor.
This is about having a specific plan -- what are you going to do,
what's the list of people you're going to contact, who's going to do the
work. So if the students who asked me this question are really
interested in it, your community needs a plan and then somebody needs to
be charged with carrying it out and then somebody else needs to be
checking on them to make sure they're doing it. It is like every other
endeavor, you've got to have a plan and then you've got to execute it.
REVEREND JACKSON: I also think, Mr. President, it is also fair to
say that, while motivation is important and attitude is important, Bob
kept hammering at access. There are still many pockets in the country
like Appalachia and like East Palo Alto, really, here, an island in the
ocean of high-tech, fundamentally disconnected. We opened our office
here two months ago and did not have enough lines -- wasn't big enough
to get enough telephone lines in this island for the schools here, for
the seniors who need the e-medicine here.
So we have these pockets where we have under-served markets and
unutilized talent and untapped capital. And just maybe what your tour
is doing, not only is it bringing light to East Palo Alto, but around
the country as we visit we see virtually every city fully wired jails
and unwired schools. Now, the move has been made to address that now,
but we need some combination of structural universal access as well as
motivation and access to capital for entrepreneurship. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that.
Any other questions in the audience there? Go ahead.
Q My name is Maria. I am nine years old. My question is, what
will technology be in the future? (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I certainly can't answer that. Who wants to
answer that? Bob, you want to answer that question?
MR. KNOWLING: The technology of the future, I guess if I really
did have a crystal ball and I gave you the right answer I might be able
to retire tomorrow, because I will be a genius. Five years ago, could
any of guess that we would be so eccentric, that literally the Internet
is changing our lives, the way that we work, the way that we play, et
But I believe the technology of the future is that things that we
take today, in terms of our manual mechanization of things, I think
money will become passe. I think we all will be going around with smart
cards and smart chips. The Internet access that we traditionally sit
down at a hardwired device today to reach out to e-mail and to other
people around the globe, it will become a very mobile technology, where
-- literally, through handheld devices. And, as you've seen the
migration of cellular technology, where devices went from bulky things
to very sleek things. I'm always marveled when I get on an airplane
and I see people with things that look as small as a credit card. It's
going to become very, very mobile in terms of the access and I believe
that the other thing that will happen is that you will see a
globalization in terms of the ability to transact and communicate
through these devices will be sort of the future.
At the end of the day, though, the Internet and this whole
revolution that we are seeing in front of us, 200 years from now when
they write the history books, these will become the new Harvard business
case studies. This will make the industrial revolution pale in
MS. FIORINA: I guess the only thing I would add is we hope people
about your age help us figure that out, what technology will be like 20
years from now.
But I think to Bob's point, fundamentally I believe -- and everyone
in the high-tech industry believes -- we are moving to a point where
technology will become so pervasive, it will become both intimate and
nonintrusive. Today, technology is intrusive, it's not everywhere.
Technology will move to the point where it is friendly and intimate and
personalized, where everything is connected and everything is
intelligent. And it will work for you instead of you having to work for
THE PRESIDENT: I also think what you will see is that -- two
things -- I think all communications, information and entertainment
systems will merge. So people will be carrying around things that are
telephones, are faxes, are televisions, you know, calling up movies and
everything else in one little thing they can carry around with them. I
think you will have that.
And the other thing I think will happen is there will be a radical
alteration in the relationship of energy to work, which will enable us
to dramatically improve the protection of the global environment and
generate a whole different kind of jobs than we've ever had before. I
think those are the two things that will happen over the next 20 years.
There was one other -- I promised the lady over here -- that young
woman, yes, I promised her.
Q -- I'm with the Girls Club. And our question is, are you
going to help our community's youth to receive internship in the Silicon
Valley, since we also live here? (Applause.)
MS. FIORINA: I think that question was directed at companies. I
hope so. But Hewlett-Packard has been providing internships to people
in East Palo Alto and communities, frankly, all over the world for many
decades. And I know other companies do so, as well. But internship for
us is a way of getting access to talent; it's a way of us getting to
know a potential future full-time employee. So our internship program
has been very successful for us over decades, and we believe has been a
great experience for the interns who have shared some time with us.
THE PRESIDENT: How old are the interns? When do you start?
MS. FIORINA: Most of them start at the end of their high school
years and in their college years. I don't think we have interns much
younger than 15 or 16.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say this. Maybe one of the things that
the Mayor could do is to sort of scout the interest in the high schools
of the community and then talk to some of the companies about it. I'll
bet you could arrange for some intern or intern-like programs for kids
in their high school years so at least they could be exposed to these
companies and see what it is they need to do. And we could come out
with something good here. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, we have time for one last question from
on-line. This is from Leadership Education Athletics in Connecticut,
from Maya Watts: How do you plan to help children from poor
neighborhoods get access to the Internet?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, right now, what we are trying to do is to
make sure all the schools are wired. And when we started, only about 3
percent of our schools were, 1993. Now, we're up to 95 percent of the
schools in the country have at least one Internet connection, including
90 percent of the schools in low income areas. Surprisingly enough,
some of our schools, believe it or not, can't be wired because they are
so dilapidated, which is why I've been trying to get a school
construction initiative passed through Congress. (Applause.)
This may be hard for you to believe out here, but there are schools
in New York City that are still heated by coal-fired furnaces. In
Philadelphia, the average school building is 65 years old. And there
are literally some of our poorest schools in our poor neighborhoods that
we are physically unable to wire. But apart from them, by the end of
this year, we should be at 100 percent of the schools.
Then what I think we need to do is to look at some of the things
that have been done, for example, by Lucent and others in Union City,
New Jersey, where they are trying to put more computers and Internet
connections into the homes of first generation immigrants so that they
can -- the parents can e-mail the principals and the teachers and learn
and actually having -- my goal is -- it can't be done while I'm still
President, but I'm going to keep working on it -- my goal is to have the
penetration of computers and Internet access in this country to equal
the penetration of telephone usage. That's what our goal ought to be.
We ought to not quit until we get there. (Applause).
Q Mr. President, we actually have time for one last question
from the audience.
THE PRESIDENT: No, let this lady go and then I'll take yours. No,
this lady first and then you. Okay, go ahead.
Q Hi, Mr. President. My parents both voted for you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q My name is Weslina Ford (phonetic) and I used to work for
Plugged In Enterprises. And my question is, what kind of programs and
education would you encourage to help promote more access to science and
engineering to me as an African American female?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mentioned one of them in my announcement,
but I think that beyond what we have talked about here, I think
generally there needs to be a greater emphasis among young female
students and among minority students on science, engineering,
mathematics education. And we actually have some initiatives to invest
in that, to do more outreach, do more recruitment, get more people
involved in these programs; to encourage more people to go on to college
to major in these programs in the 21st Century Science and Technology
initiative that the Congress has. And I think it's about a $3 billion
initiative. I think it has very broad bipartisan support and I expect
it to pass.
But I think we need to continue to just work on recruitment, and
then make sure that the kids that are interested in it take the courses
in high school they need to take to get into the college majors. But I
hope -- that's one of the things that I was talking about. You know, we
don't have enough women or minorities in a lot of these technology
fields. But there are a lot of other fields related to science and
engineering where we need more.
I was talking to a young woman yesterday, who is a classmate of my
daughter's at Stanford, about that, in the engineering area. And I
think a lot of it, too, is making people believe they can do it. You
know, in that sense, there is a parallel to the -- a few years ago, we
had a lot of talented women basketball players, but they didn't imagine
that they could have a pro league that could work, but it does now. And
so Rebecca has got a whole different life than she would have had if she
had been an all-American college basketball player 20 years ago. She
wouldn't have had the life she now has. And that's -- someone imagined
it and then they went around putting it together.
And I think it's even easier if we can just get more talent into
the science and technology and engineering fields. And I think the main
thing is recruitment and then making sure the young women and other
people who have been left out actually do the preparatory work they need
to get into the majors. I think the companies will recruit them coming
out of college if they get there in the first place.
Now, I promised this lady she could ask her question.
Q I rise to a point of privilege. I'm a septuagenarian and I've
been here for 40 years. The thing that I was going to say I'm not going
to say. I'm just going to welcome you here on behalf of the community
of East Palo Alto, welcome Reverend Jackson back again, and Mr. Conyers
and the rest of the distinguished people. (Applause.)
Q We have received hundreds of e-mails from students across the
country, and once the President gets back I understand he will be
responding to them.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we want to respond to all the e-mails.
Q Great, wonderful.
THE PRESIDENT: Anything else? Let me say to all of you -- I'd
like to ask you to give a big hand to Senator Bennett and all the
members of the House of Representatives that are here. I thank them for
One of the things I've noticed after seven years of being President
is that the President gets to give the speeches, but if the Congress
doesn't appropriate the money, it's just a speech. So I think their
interest in being here is very encouraging, indeed. I want to thank all
the chief executive officers of all these companies who are here because
much of the work that will be done and much of the commitment that has
been made today comes from them. So give them a hand as well.
And let me urge you again not to get discouraged, to work on this,
and to remember that as big as the challenges seem, there are other
people for whom the challenges are greater. I will just give you one
example. When we get to the Shiprock Reservation today, we will be at a
place where only 20 percent of the residents have telephones. Now, you
can't be on the Internet if you don't even have a line. The last Indian
reservation I visited, the unemployment rate was 73 percent.
The one thing you have here is physical proximity and you ought to
make the most of it. I'm out there trying to figure out how to help
other people overcome physical distance from Appalachia to the small
towns of the Mississippi Delta to these Native American reservations.
You've got the proximity. These people showed up here today for you.
And now, to some extent, the community, the schools, you've got to make
the most of this. They want to be here to help you and you can do it.
Thank you very much and God bless you.
END 9:55 A.M. PDT