Federal

Obama Talks School Technology Gap During Alaska Visit

By Benjamin Herold — September 04, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Lauren Camera. Cross-posted from the Politics K-12 blog.

President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit the Arctic Circle Wednesday when he landed at the remote 3,000-person village of Kotzebue, Alaska.

The president’s week-long trip to the Last Frontier has largely focused on climate change—Kotzebue is in danger of being wiped off the map due to the rising sea level—but in a speech Tuesday evening, he focused on something else that’s a high priority for isolated communities: access to technology for students.

“One of the initiatives I’m proudest of is something we call ConnectEd,” he said to a crowd gathered at Kotzebue High School. “It’s a program we started to close the technology gap in our schools and connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed Internet by the year 2018.”

The White House launched the ConnectEd program back in 2013, and has drawn financial support from numerous ed-tech providers and private organizations with the goal of improving digital education and Web connectivity. For instance, Apple, Microsoft, Prezi, Sprint, Verizon, and others have already pledged about $2 billion in goods and services to deliver cutting-edge technology into classrooms.

And Apple recently provided another $100 million worth of digital devices to low-income schools.

“If you want to see the difference this can make in a child’s life, look at Nanwalek, on Alaska’s southern coast,” Obama said. “It is remote. Like a lot of Alaskan communities, you can only get there by boat or by plane. But today, with the help of Apple, all 80 of its students, most of whom are Alaska Natives, now learn in classrooms with fast Internet, and iPads, and digital content.”

Kotzebue has also benefited from the program, using funding to expand wireless Internet and purchase a 3D printer.

“Most of these kids don’t have Internet at home,” Obama said. “But in the classroom, they’ve got the tools to compete with any child around the world.

“That’s great, because that’s what we want for all these kids,” he continued. “We want nothing less than the best. And as president, one of the reasons I’m here is to tell you that I’m behind those efforts. I want to make sure these young people know we care about them, and we’re fighting for them. “

The Obama administration has prioritized the expansion of technology in schools, and ConnectEd has been its signature effort, along with the E-rate program, which funnels money to schools and libraries to make telecommunications and information services more affordable.

But have the programs made a significant impact? Last year, my colleague Michelle Davis asked that very question and examined the administration’s various ed-tech programs here.

The short answer for ConnectEd? While the White House has done a good job garnering billions in private sector investments, most of the money has yet to trickle down to teachers and students. Read more here.

Photo: President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media while on a hike to the Exit Glacier in Seward, Alaska, on Sept. 1. --Andrew Harnik/AP

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP