President Obama to launch new plan for highspeed Internet in schools

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 4, 2014 

US NEWS OBAMA 4 CH

President Barack Obama and eighth grader Sam Montgomery laugh during a tour of Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina, Thursday, June 6, 2013. Obama unveiled a plan to connect nearly every U.S. classroom to high-speed Internet during a speech at the school.

JOHN D. SIMMONS/CHARLOTTE OBSERVER — MCT

President Barack Obama will visit a middle school in Adelphi, Md., just outside Washington on Tuesday to announce a public-private plan to help more schools and libraries get high-speed Internet connections.

Across the nation, more than 70 percent of schools don’t have the high-speed broadband or wireless they need to use digital devices and help students learn at their own pace, Cecilia Munoz, the White House director of the Domestic Policy Council, told reporters on a conference call.

Most schools are connected, but often can handle only one or two devices per classroom, or can’t stream video in more than one classroom at a time, Munoz said.

She said more high-speed Internet would help teachers assess students and intervene quickly to meet their needs, and also will allow students to collaborate using Skype and social media.

“It will also help overcome one of the greatest challenges, which is boredom,” she added.

The announcement at Buck Lodge Middle School will be what the White House calls a down payment toward the president’s ConnectED goal of connecting 99 percent of students with next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years.

The FCC examined its existing resources and found $2 billion that could be used for better purposes, said Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council. The federal funding will be used to connect 20 million young people in more than 15,000 schools.

In addition, private companies will announce that they’re giving more than $750 million dollars. Among them will be $100 million by Apple for tablets and other products in disadvantaged schools and $100 million each by AT&T and Sprint to provide students with free wireless services at home for several years.

Munoz said the investments were important because the United States was falling behind such countries as Singapore and South Korea in digital learning. Sperling said the initiative would help provide an economy of scale that drives down costs and makes individual digital learning more affordable.

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