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February 15, 2001     (512) 463-0300
group photo
Teachers and students from across texas gather to demonstrate the power of learning through technology in the State Capitol Ground Level Rotunda, Thursday, February 15, 2001.

Texas Capitol
Becomes a Schoolhouse

Palestine Senator Todd Staples with Texas Capitol Schoolhouse students
Palestine Senator Todd Staples listening to demonstrations at the Texas Capitol Schoolhouse held Thursday, February 15, 2001.

AUSTIN - Schoolchildren and teachers from across the state were at the Capitol on Thursday for the 2001 Texas Capitol Schoolhouse.

The Texas Capitol Schoolhouse is a biennial event where schools demonstrate how they are using technology in the classroom.

"I sponsored the first Capitol Schoolhouse eight years ago to help educate the Legislature on the importance of teaching students how to become familiar and comfortable with technology," said Austin Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, one of the event's sponsors. "The advances students and teachers have made since then are amazing -- these kids can run circles around many adults when it comes to technology."

The students, ranging from elementary to high school, gathered in the Capitol Ground Floor Rotunda to show some of the high-tech projects they are working on in their classrooms. Some of the students used the Internet to gather information for computer slide shows. Other students used computers to design bridges. Another group was using a combination online and field study program to learn about Texas waterways.

Teachers and students show the technologies and creative skills to Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins
Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins, chair of the Senate Education Committee, listens as teachers and students demonstrate technology and their creative skills at Texas Capitol Schoolhouse held Thursday, February 15, 2001, in the Ground Level Rotunda at the Capitol.

"As Will, my 11-year-old, says, this is way cool," said Amarillo Sen. Teel Bivins, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and one of the event's sponsors.

Nelda Laney, the wife of another of the sponsors, Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, also played an important role in the event.

"I like the situation that I find myself in here this morning, which is being your Official Schoolhouse Mom," Mrs. Laney said. "I like that. I'm a mom. I'm an old retired schoolteacher. So I guess it fits -- old mom, old schoolteacher. So I'm honored to be your Schoolhouse Mom."

Other Capitol sponsors were Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff, Houston Sen. Rodney Ellis and Henderson State Rep. Paul Sadler.

The Texas Capitol School continues Friday, closing with an awards ceremony at 11:30 a.m.

In other Senate news, Arlington Sen. Chris Harris briefed media on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Uninsured Report to the 77th Legislature. Harris chaired the panel, which was charged during the 76th interim with studying the problem of Texans without health insurance.

'Show, tell and touch' of the latest computers and software proved both fun and inventive.
"Show, tell and touch" of the latest computers and software proved both fun and inventive. Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins uses a probe while viewing results instantaneously on screen. Bivins, chair of the Senate Education Committee, was one of the sponsors of the event.

Other members of the task force included Beaumont Sen. David Bernsen, El Paso Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, State Reps. Garnet Coleman and Craig Eiland, then-State Rep. Bob Glaze. Then-Gov. George W. Bush also appointed three members to the panel, Mary Wilson Dickey of College Station, John C. Goodman of Dallas and Boone Powell of Dallas.

"In any given month in Texas, right now today, we have a minimum of one out of four Texans who have no form of insurance coverage," Harris said.

Among the task force's recommendations were simpler enrollment and qualifying procedures for state-subsidized insurance and Medicaid and an overall more organized approach to using state resources to get more Texans covered by health insurance.

Later in the day, San Antonio Sen. Leticia Van de Putte announced legislation to create a San Antonio Joint Life Sciences Institute. The proposal would combine the resources of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The combined institute would allow the institutions to work together to develop and offer advanced degrees in life sciences and collaborate on research.

In session, the Senate passed five bills:

The Senate stands adjourned until 1 p.m. Monday, February 19.