Obama Pushes for More Internet Access in Schools
President Obama made a promise not long ago to get all students nationwide connected to high-speed internet within the next four years, and next week he will host a summit of school superintendents from across the nation. According to administration officials, around 125 superintendents will be in attendance and will each make their own pledges to get their school districts connected and help others to achieve the same goal.
Cecilia Munoz, the director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, said that high-speed internet is essential for students to improve their college attainability and will also help students to be able to compete in a global economy against other countries that already have wired classrooms. “This is an important set of tools to help us get there,” Muñoz said.
Each superintendent will take a pledge called the “Future Ready District Pledge”, and according to this pledge, the federal government along with private businesses will provide up to $4 billion to be used to improve the internet infrastructure for schools nationwide. The pledge also states that schools must “develop the human capacity, digital materials, and device access to use the new bandwidth wisely and effectively.”
In 2013, when Obama first revealed his ConnectEd plan, he said the goal was to have 99% of schools connected with high-speed internet within 5 years, which means by 2018. At this time, roughly 35% of school across the nation have the necessary broadband to be able to teach new technologies. Of the $4 billion dollars, half comes from the FCC which is emphasizing WiFi internet access for schools that have little or no connectivity at present. The other half comes from a group of private companies, namely Adobe, Apple, AT&T, AutoDesk, Esri, Microsoft, O’Reilly Media, Prezi, Sprint, and Verizon. Their contributions will include provisions of technology and equipment.
Native American schools and schools in rural areas are also included in the ConnectEd plan.