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Obama moves forward on greater internet connectivity for students

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Speaking on Tuesday at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md. U.S. President Barack Obama announced continued progress and new steps from both the executive branch as well as from private enterprise in the ConnectED initiative, a program designed to bring high speed internet access to more students and to increase technology education for both students and teachers all across America.

“The average American school has about the same Internet bandwidth as the average American home, but it serves 200 times as many people,” President Obama noted. “So you’ve got the same bandwidth, but it’s a school -- it’s not your house. Only around 30 percent of our students have true high-speed Internet in the classroom.”

Continuing, with a comparison with the world educational stage, Obama remarked, “In countries like South Korea, that’s 100 percent. We shouldn’t give that kind of competitive advantage over to other countries. We want to make sure our young people have the same advantages that some child in South Korea has right now. In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools.”

According to the fact sheet released by the White House, the private sector has committed to provide over $750 million “to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including devices, free software, teacher professional development, and home wireless connectivity.” Companies involved include Apple, AT&T, Autodesk, Microsoft, O’Reilly Media, Sprint and Verizon.

In addition, the FCC is expending $2 billion over the next two years to upgrade schools and libraries across the country in order to connect 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending $10 million to rural schools for distance learning grants.

ConnectED’s goal is to provide 99% of American students with next-generation connectivity within five years. Presently, less than 30% of schools in America have the sufficient broadband to use current technology.

In the closing of his speech President Obama stated, “If we commit ourselves to restoring opportunity for everybody, then we can keep the American Dream alive for generations to come.”

In June 2013 in Mooresville, N.C. President Obama initially announced the launch of the ConnectED initiative.