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Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Awards $20 Million for 'Classrooms for the Future'

35,000 laptops will help transform 103 high schools

WILKINSBURG, Pa., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the selection of the first 103 schools that will create Classrooms for the Future and transform the high school experience for 117,000 students through technology.

"We cannot prepare the Technology Generation to be the innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs of the 21st century just using chalk and blackboards," the Governor said during his announcement at Wilkinsburg High School in suburban Pittsburgh. "Classrooms for the Future will not only help to boost achievement while our students are still in high school, but they will be primed for success in college and beyond, especially in fields that require advanced skills with computers and technology.

"If we are to adequately prepare our students to effectively compete in the global marketplace, we must transform how they learn and how teachers teach," the Governor said. "The schools selected for the first year of Classrooms for the Future will serve as a model to the hundreds of schools we intend to fund through this program over the next three years.

"It is fantastic to see the level of interest that Classrooms for the Future has generated and is proof positive that local education leaders agree this program needs to be available to all schools, which will happen under my plan," Governor Rendell said. "This shows how serious our schools are about implementing a program that will enhance instruction, raise student achievement and prepare our students to compete for the very best jobs with their peers from across the globe."

Classrooms for the Future is Governor Rendell's initiative to put a laptop computer on every high school English, math, science and social studies desk and to provide teachers with a multimedia workstation and intensive training to enhance education. Governor Rendell's 2006-07 Budget provided $20 million for the first year of Classrooms for the Future, which the Governor intends to expand statewide.

An additional $6 million in state and federal resources will be used to train teachers and administrators on how to best harness the power of technology to enhance classroom discussions, lessons and projects. The program will provide a total of $200 million over the next three years so every Pennsylvania high school may participate.

In addition to the laptops, each classroom will be equipped with a Smartboard and projector, Web cams and other video cameras. Teachers and students will also have access to imaging software. The average award for school districts was $252,000, which will provide over 35,000 laptops for the first year of this initiative.

"The world has changed so much since the Governor and I were in high school," Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak said. "Back then, chalkboards and textbooks were sufficient for teachers to provide a quality education, but if today's students are to be provided with a high-quality education that will ensure success in the high-tech global marketplace, we

need to invest in programs that give them a leg up on the competition. Classrooms for the Future is that type of program."

On average, eight students have to share every Internet-equipped computer that's available today in Pennsylvania schools. Additionally, the commonwealth is ranked 37th in the nation for the number of teachers who use the Internet in classroom instruction.

Last spring, in its "Technology Counts 2006" report, Education Week gave Pennsylvania a "C" for its lack of access to, and incorporation of, technology in schools across the commonwealth.

"Those types of statistics and measures will change," the Governor said. "However, this initiative is not about rankings or rewards. It is about enhancing our schools' learning environment, increasing student achievement and preparing our students to compete in the global job market."

One-hundred-eighty-nine school districts applied for funding in the first year of Classrooms for the Future. Districts were selected for participation based upon their plans to use technology to change teaching and improve student learning.

Classrooms for the Future is the latest initiative in Governor Rendell's comprehensive high school reform agenda that is transforming Pennsylvania high school students to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college and the workplace. In addition to Classrooms for the Future, other high school reform efforts include:

* Project 720 provides $8 million (up from $4.7 million in 2005-06) this year for 32 more school districts (107 total) to ensure all students take a rigorous curriculum; * Dual Enrollment provides $8 million (up from $5 million in 2005-06) to allow thousands of more students to join the 20,000 already earning college credits while completing their high school graduation requirements; and * The new College and Career Counseling initiative provides $3 million to enable 19 school districts enhance career counseling assistance for all students.

Since taking office, Governor Rendell has invested $1.8 billion in new education initiatives. His 2006-07 education budget represents a $635 million -- or eight percent -- increase over last year.

For a list of schools that are participating in Classrooms for the Future this year, visit http://www.pde.state.pa.us/.

The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/.

CONTACT: Kate Philips 717-783-1116 Brian McDonald (PDE) 717-783-9802

Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

CONTACT: Kate Philips, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor,
+1-717-783-1116; Brian McDonald, Pennsylvania Department of Education,

Web site: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/

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