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EDUCATION | THE RESEARCH FILE

Public Support for Computers

June 25, 1997

Much attention has been drawn lately to whether computers in the classroom make smarter students. Whether or not they do, a new national poll is weighing into the debate with evidence that the American public strongly believes in their educational value and is willing to put money behind that belief.

Conducted for the Santa Monica-based Milken Family Foundation by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, the poll found that 76% of 801 voters polled nationwide would favor shifting money from a national excise tax on telephone service to a fund for equipping public schools with computers. Two-thirds would favor raising the tax from 3% to 5% to put computers in every public school in the country.

"That was far and away the most surprising finding," said Michael Reese of the Milken Foundation. "It didn't matter what political affiliation, gender or age--the feelings were pretty uniform."

Public school parents and voters from low income households put a higher than average priority on having classrooms well-equipped for the computer age. "I think the fear is they are going to be left behind," Reese said.

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