Acting again without Congress, President Obama Tuesday announced donations of more than $750 million from high-tech firms to bring wireless Internet service to more schools nationwide.
“Only about 30 percent of our students have true high-speed Internet in the classroom,” Mr. Obama said during a visit to Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md. “In a country where we expect free wi-fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools.”
The president announced commitments of $100 million or more from companies including Apple, Verizon and Sprint to boost broadband service to K-12 schools and aid students through digital learning programs. Most of the commitments are for three or four years.
“This is something we can do without waiting for Congress,” Mr. Obama said approvingly to students. “All of us have a stake in your education and your future.”
The president is on a push to create “a year of action” on his policy goals by taking more executive actions on initiatives that Congress hasn’t approved. He introduced his “ConnectED” program last year with a goal of connecting 99 percent of the nation’s students to wi-fi technology within five years.
Buck Lodge Middle School is a nationally recognized “school of character,” and one of four middle schools in Prince George’s County selected to integrate iPads into the classroom through a digital learning project. Before his speech, Mr. Obama toured a 7th-grade classroom that uses technology to provide students with personalized learning.
The president said he wants to give students a chance to succeed, no matter what their ethnic or socioeconomic background. He said he’s a prime example of how far any student can go.
“I’m only standing here today because my education gave me a chance,” Mr. Obama said. “I was raised by a single mom. We didn’t have a lot of money. With a family who loved me, and with some hard work on my part … and ultimately with the help of scholarships and student loans, I was able to go to college. My country invested in me. And I want American to now invest in you.”
Mr. Obama said the Federal Communications Commission is also freeing up $2 billion from its current budget to install Internet service in 15,000 schools nationally within the next two years.
“It won’t require a single piece of legislation from Congress, it won’t add a single dime to the deficit,” he said.