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Testimony

of

SCOTT D. THOMSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS

Before the

SUB COMMITTEE ON TAXATION AND DEBT MANAGEMENT

of the

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE

on the

TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION ASSISTANCE AND DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1983

(S. 1194)

May 27, 1983

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Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Scott Thomson, and

I am Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School

Principals. Our organization is made up of some thirty-four thousand

principals, assistant principals and other building-level administrators

in secondary schools across the United States. As such they are on the

firing line every day in public and private schools alike trying to meet the educational needs of our youth, in difficult and rapidly-changing times.

As almost every educational study has concluded recently, one of the

most serious educational needs of students in the era which we have already

entered is for some level of computer literacy. By the year 2000, that need

may well stand in a position equal to the more traditional need for language

literacy which has long been a major objective of our educational system.

Indeed, if one thing can be identified as the key to the new age of electronic

technology in which our students will find themselves, it may well be a

basic familiarity with the electronic computer.

It is this objective which we enthusiastically supported last Session

in the Technology Act of 1982, and we were greatly disappointed when it failed

to achieve passage in the Senate after receiving strong support in the House

of Representatives. This year, therefore, we are delighted to see the revised

and broadened legislation before this Committee early in the Session, and

sincerely hope that it will achieve the support necessary for swift approval

here, so that it may reach the floor of the Senate without delay.

The expansion of the bill to include contributions of other kinds of

scientific and technological equipment to institutions of higher education

can only be regarded as an important improvement in recognition of the need to increase and upgrade educational opportunity for math, science and engineering students at these more advanced levels. Our own concern, however, and there

fore our emphasis, must be upon the original concept of encouracing private

industry to contribute computers and computer-related hardware and soft

ware to secondary schools for instructional purposes.

It was, perhaps, inevitable when legislation was initially introduced

last session that some would misunderstand, and view the bill as one which

would primarily serve the purpose of computer manufacturers, perhaps even one

particular manufacturer with which the proposal was originally linked.

misunderstandings should, by now, have been put to rest, and the legislation

that is before this Committee now is the stronger for it.

It clearly makes

possible the donation of equipment by any manufacturer, while also drawing

the specifications for such equipment tightly enough to make certain that the

equipment eligible for favorable tax treatment will also be of a kind which

will provide maximum opportunity to the students it is intended to serve.

It

must be current equipment, and not something the manufacturer might want merely

to dispose of.

The new bill also mandates that the company seeking to avail

itself of the benefits of the law must not only include the ancillary equipment

necessary to make the basic equipment useful, but also the software and the

training necessary to enable school staff to use it properly for instructional

purposes.

We believe that some of the new provisions in the bill represent

a vast improvement over the original proposal introduced last year, and hope

that these improvements may aid in eliciting the support necessary to achieve

prompt passage in both Houses of the Congress this year.

Before closing, I want to say a few words in support of the method by which S. 1194 seeks to provide the important aid that it offers. Clearly,

some of the primary purposes of this bill could be achieved merely by the usual

kind of federal financial grant program by which funds were appropriated by

the Congress and parcelled out by the Department of Education, through the

states to local schools and school districts. We believe, however, that in

this particular case, if in no other, the approach taken in S. 1194 is far

superior to the usual grant program, and provides, perhaps, a model for still other programs for improving American education in the last two decades of

this century. For this approach is one in which private industry and the schools

can draw closer together in a cooperative effort, an effort which may yield

benefits that will go much further than the original objectives of providing

badly needed technological equipment to the schools and universities of our

nation.

By providing a vehicle for cooperative effort, s. 1194 establishes a

model for cooperative efforts which are badly needed if we are to mesh our

educational and industrial establishments in one process designed to meet the

future needs of both our youth and our nation. Students both of our educational

and our industrial systems have recently tended to look to foreign shores to

find models for Americans to emulate. And, of course, we should always be

ready to understand and to adopt promising new ideas developed and tested

anywhere in the world. But I am one who still believes that the essentials required for continuing leadership in science, technology, and even industrial productivity are, as they have always been, right here at home, if we will but

organize them properly, and apply ourselves to using them.

I believe that the opportunity is here and it is now for education and

for industry to pool their resources and help each other to solve their problems by a new kind of cooperative effort. This kind of effort is well represented by S. 1194, and I urge the Committee to support and approve it without delay.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Senator DANFORTH. Dr. Olson, there has been so much comment and literature about the fact that we in the United States tend to be short-term planners. Our industry is interested in next quarter's profit and loss statement rather than something that will produce growth 5 years, 10 years down the line. If that comment is true then it would seem that with respect to research spending there would be a natural predisposition on the part of American business to spend money on applied research and to underspend on basic research. Is that a concern of yours, and is that a concern which you think would be addressed by this legislation?

Dr. OLSON. Senator, indeed it is a concern. And one of the great problems with basic research, of course, is that it needs to be an ongoing kind of activity. And, in one sense, it may have no ending. There needs to be a continuing search. For that reason, the credits provided and the encouragement provided in these bills would seem to us to be of great importance in furthering the kind of support that is essential. Support that is turned on one year and turned down or off the next is not particularly productive.

Senator DANFORTH. In other words, the University of Missouri, for example, has to live more than 1 semester or 1 year at a time?

Dr. OLSON. Yes, indeed, and in all of its areas, but particularly in the area of research. Continuing support is of the utmost importance.

Senator DANFORTH. To what extent are universities supported by the business community as opposed to simply the alumni? Is there a growing trend or a diminishing trend?

Dr. OLSON. I think there is a growing trend in all kinds of institutions, particularly in the research institutions. We are seeing cooperative endeavors as between industrial labs, business labs and university researchers. So it is a growing practice. And one of the great benefits to be derived from the legislation which you have introduced would be that in a sense it would continue the encouragement and institutionalize the support.

Senator DANFORTH. Now some people would say, well, this is a negative trend rather than a positive one; that if the business community is involved in financing research, contributing to the universities for research, that somehow jeopardizes the independence of the university on balance. How would you assess the pluses and the minuses of the business community being increasingly involved in the academic community?

Dr. OLSON. Of course, there are concerns, and legitimate concerns, that there may be undue influences on the university's research. But, generally speaking, I think the universities around the country are working out protocols and arrangements for relationships which preserve the essential integrity of the universities' research mission, and at the same time provide a legitimate kind of expenditure for business. I think the pluses far outweigh the min

uses.

Senator DANFORTH. Now, Mr. Thomson and Mr. Bottoms, in education today at the elementary and secondary level and also the vocational educational level, we are moving dramatically away from the old slate writing—what was it called, the McGuffy Reader? That kind of thing—to the use of equipment. Are we not? I mean, a school now without substantial equipment-computers, particular

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