President Obama pledges $750 million in commitments to outfit classrooms with better technology

BY Joshua Barajas  February 5, 2014 at 9:15 AM EST
Video still by PBS NewsHour

Video still by PBS NewsHour

President Obama announced Tuesday that several U.S. companies have pledged more than $750 million in contributions to equip American students with access to better technology, such as high-speed Internet, in the classroom.

“In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools,” Mr. Obama said, speaking from a middle school in Adelphi, Md.

AT&T and Sprint have offered free, wireless Internet access through their networks, expanding on the Federal Communications Commission’s plan, announced in February, to reallocate $2 billion to connect 15,000 disadvantaged schools with faster broadband speeds.

Other companies have pledged hardware and software. Apple is contributing $100 million in iPads and laptops, while Microsoft is offering discounted Windows software and free copies of Microsoft Office. Autodesk and O’Reilly Media have also pledged free software, and companies such as Verizon are helping with teacher training to better handle the new technology.

These companies have supported the president’s 5-year ConnectED initiative, announced last summer, to bolster connectivity for 99 percent of students across the country. The move, the president has said, is a much-needed push for learning to adapt in the digital age.

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