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Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:46 PM

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Obama Announces Millions in Investments for Education Initiatives


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President spoke to a crowd of around 300 in the gymnasium of Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, where all students have access to an iPad. Photo by Alexis A. Goring

President spoke to a crowd of around 300 in the gymnasium of Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, where all students have access to an iPad. Photo by Alexis A. Goring

Published on: Tuesday, February 04, 2014

By Ashley Westerman, Special to The Sentinel

ADELPHI, Md. - President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that some major tech companies will invest $750 million in his ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99 percent of US schools to high-speed wireless Internet within the next five years.

The President spoke to a crowd of around 300 in the gymnasium of Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, where all students have access to an iPad.

“And this is how it should be for every student and every teacher in every school and library in the country,” said Obama. “That’s how it should be for everybody - not just some.”

Among the private sector companies who have committed to the ConnectEd initiative are Apple, which will donate $100 million dollars worth of iPads, Macbooks, and other products across the country; AT&T, which will donate more than $100 million dollars worth of wireless service to students so they can perform school work when they get home; Microsoft, which will offer products like Windows to teachers and students at deep discounts and provide 12 million free copies of Office to  schools; and Verizon, which will expand a program to help educators to use these tools in all 50 states. The President also mentioned Autodesk, Sprint, O’Reilly Media and Safari Books Online will also be donating.

Obama said these contributions go a long way to realizing the vision “where every child as the access to the technology that they can use to help them learn”.

The President’s announcement came just a day after the Federal Communication Commission said it will spend $2 billion in the next two years to connect more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students high-speed Internet – doubling its investment.

President Obama said if America commits to restoring opportunity for everybody, then the American dream will be kept alive for generations to come.

“That’s our main project, that’s our main obligation,” said Obama. “That’s why I ran for President - that’s what I’m going to be working on the next three years."

The President, who reiterated his commitment to digital learning during the State of the Union, said again he is not waiting for Congress to act.

“I will act on my own wherever I have the opportunity to expand opportunity for more young people,” said Obama. “Wherever I have a chance to make a difference in their lives, I’m going to act.”

Other dignitaries at the announcement included U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-5) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

The National Journal reports ConnectED could cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, but that even with the additional FCC funding it is unclear where the rest of the money will come from without raising telephone bills.

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