In a February 4 speech at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland, President Obama announced more than $750 million in private-sector commitments from eight companies to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including devices, software, teacher professional development, and home wireless connectivity.
- Apple pledged $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged schools.
- AT&T pledged more than $100 million to provide middle-school students with free internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless networks for three years.
- Autodesk pledged to expand its “Design the Future” program to be available—for free—to every secondary school in the country, and is valued at more than $250 million.
- Microsoft committed to launch a substantial affordability program open to all U.S. public schools by deeply discounting the price of its Windows operating system, which will substantially bring down the cost of Windows-based devices.
- O’Reilly Media is partnering with Safari Books Online to make more than $100 million in educational content and tools available, for free, to every school in America.
- Sprint committed to offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million.
- Verizon announced a multi-year program to support the ConnectED vision through cash and in-kind commitments of up to $100 million.
In addition to the commitments from these companies, Obama discussed “ConnectED,” his initiative to close the technology gap in schools and connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed broadband internet within five years.
“Today, the average American school has about the same internet bandwidth as the average American home, but it serves 200 times as many people,” Obama said. “Only around 30 percent of our students have true high-speed internet in the classroom. In countries like South Korea, that’s 100 percent. We shouldn’t give that kind of competitive advantage over to other countries. We want to make sure our young people have the same advantages that some child in South Korea has right now. In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools.”