Greenspan Pushes Education

Tuesday, July 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the new high-tech economy, government must go beyond simply wiring classrooms for the Internet and establish specific guidelines for how computer skills are taught, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Tuesday.

In a speech to the National Governors' Association, Greenspan said government has no greater challenge than making sure it properly educates students to keep pace with a rapidly changing economy.

``If we are to remain pre-eminent in transforming knowledge into economic value, the U.S. system of higher education must remain the world's leader in generating scientific and technological breakthroughs and in preparing workers to meet the evolving demands for skilled labor,'' Greenspan told the governors.

Greenspan stressed that schools must not only do a better job of educating young students but also must beef up their resources for retraining workers at various stages of their careers.

``The heyday when a high school or college education would serve a graduate for a lifetime is gone,'' Greenspan said. ``Today's recipients of diplomas expect to have many jobs and to use a wide range of skills over their working lives.''

Greenspan spoke to the governors' annual meeting in State College, Pa. Copies of his remarks were released in Washington.

Specifically, Greenspan suggested that states, local school systems, labor unions and business groups should work together to develop appropriate standards for teaching information technology skills in the classroom.

He said these standards are needed because schools now too often narrowly interpret their job as simply teaching students how to type on the computer or permitting students to do research on the Internet.

``Incorporating new technologies into the educational process ... must involve more than simply wiring the classroom,'' Greenspan said.

He told the governors that teachers must be provided with the necessary skills to effectively teach students how to navigate the information superhighway.

Greenspan in his prepared remarks said nothing about future Fed actions regarding interest rates. The central bank has raised rates six times over the past year in an effort to slow economic growth and keep inflation in check.

Fed policy-makers passed up the chance to raise rates for a seventh time at their last meeting June 27-28 but many analysts believe there will be another rate increase at the August meeting.

Greenspan did use his speech to repeat his views that the explosion in use of the computer and other high-tech devices associated with the boom in information technology had boosted America's productivity growth, the amount of output for each hour of work.

There is currently a debate in the economics profession over how much of the boost in productivity in the past four years is the result of sustainable forces and how much simply reflects a temporary spurt after two decades of lackluster productivity growth.

Greenspan said an intriguing part of the productivity boom has been that U.S. companies have benefited more than their counterparts in Europe and Japan.

``These countries, of course, have also participated in this wave of invention and innovation, but they have been slower to exploit it,'' Greenspan said.