Obama Gets Millions for School Internet
WASHINGTON — Claiming progress in his goal to put the world at the fingertips of every American student, President Barack Obama announced $750 million in commitments from U.S. companies to begin wiring more classrooms with high-speed Internet.
Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making its Windows software available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.
“In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools,” Obama said at a middle school in the Washington suburb of Adelphi, Md. Students there are assigned iPads that they use in class and at home.
Beyond the promise of millions in donated hardware and software, the Federal Communications Commission also is setting aside $2 billion from service fees to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students to high-speed Internet over two years.
Obama last year announced his goal of bringing high-speed Internet to 99 percent of students within five years. He used THE announcement as another example of how to act without waiting on Congress.
“We picked up the phone and we started asking some outstanding business leaders to help bring our schools and libraries into the 21st century,” the president said.
The average school has the same Internet speed as an average home, but serves 200 times as many people, Obama said. About 30 percent of students have true high-speed Internet in their classrooms, compared with 100 percent of South Korean students, he said.
He said the pledges would put the world and outer space at every child’s fingertips
The initiative builds on Obama’s focus for 2014 on helping more people join and stay in the middle class amid an economic recovery in which the benefits have come more quickly for those at the top of the income scale than for those toward the bottom.