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June 16, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Orton at (562) 598-9630
Bill Orton pitches computers as 'new pencil' at Juneteenth celebration      (SANTA ANA) -- Calling the computer "nothing but a new pencil," state Assembly candidate William R. "Bill" Orton (D-Seal Beach) challenged state school officials and legislators to put a laptop on the desk of every eighth grade student in California and have that machine follow that child all through high school.
"There ought to be a computer on every child's desk from the eighth grade on," Orton told those gathered at the NAACP of Orange County's annual "Juneteenth" celebration, held in Santa Ana's Lille King Park. "It cannot be left to individual districts. It will only happen with action at the state level."
Juneteenth commemorates the arrival in Texas -- on June19th, 1865 -- of the news President Abraham Lincoln had signed an Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in the Conferederate states were free.
"It's not age, it's not race, it's not gender, it's not national origin that matters," Orton told the Juneteenth audience. "Skills, education and hard work are what give each person the opportunity to succeed."
Aiming comments at three elementary school-aged girls in the front row, Orton asked each whether they had a computer on their desk. As each nodded yes, Orton launched into his advocacy of technological training in the schools.
Computers are the new pencil, said Orton, and like a pencil, they are nothing but neutral tools. Only through constant exposure will students become fluent in their usage and able to compete in the global economy.
Orton compares his call for universal computer access for the eighth through 12th grades to the passage during the Civil War of a law establishing "land grant colleges" in each state. The Morrill Land Grant College Act was signed into law the same year as the Emancipation Proclamation.
"When Mr. Morrill proposed something as audacious as a college in every state, people said, 'You're crazy. We're in the middle of a Civil War."
Despite the hardships of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Land Grant College Act and these schools -- including Cornell and MIT -- eventually produced six Presidents of the United States and countless other leaders.
"It may not seem like the time is ripe to act on something as audacious as universal computer access for our 13-to-18 year olds, but we need to prepare our people with the skills they'll need when they get out of school," said Orton.
For more information abut Bill Orton's race for state Assembly, visit http://billyorton.com.
TIDBITS: Orton attended the ELEANOR ROOSEVELT DEMOCRATIC CLUB's 15th annual awards dinner, to thank the organization for being the first group to endorse his campaign for state Assembly.
BILL ORTON is the Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the 67th District, which covers Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, and portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster.
FPPC ID# 1240194