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The Daily Dish: Obama Announces E-book Initiative for Underprivileged Students

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May 01, 2015 03:14 pm


The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.

On Thursday President Barack Obama announced an initiative to put more books into the hands of millions of underprivileged young adults across the country in the form of e-books.

“And you guys are part of a generation that can learn more, faster, and get information from around the world better than anybody in human history,” Obama said to  an audience of 40 students at the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C.  “But you still got to take advantage of it.  You still got to want to learn.  You’ve got to want to read, and be curious.  And if you do, you guys are going to be incredible leaders in the future.”

Obama stated major publishers would provide $250 million worth of free e-books to low-income students. During the town hall meeting streamed via Discovery Channel, Obama said providing the e-books the books would be provided online for those students who might not have access to a variety of books at home or at their local library.

These publishing companies are part of a growing number of businesses investing in education technology. As a recent article by Fortune Magazine’s Mark Koba points out, funding for technology in the classroom continues to increase – reaching $13 billion worldwide in 2013.

But plenty of work is being done – by districts and the federal government – to ensure every student gets the most out of the use of technology in the classroom. And, as the Associated Press (AP) notes, Obama sees his e-book initiative as a step in the right direction for low-income students. The AP quotes him as saying, “the truth of the matter is we live in a digital age,” adding:

‘Making them available free of charge to people who don’t have a lot of books or who can’t afford to buy many “can even things out between poor kids and rich kids,” who can afford them.’

Obama also called on local libraries help spread the joy of reading.  Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Toledo, Ohio is part of 30 communities spanning the U.S. that have pledged to give every student the chance to check out books by providing him or her with a library card. Relatedly, the  New York Public Library is developing an e-reader app, with the goal of reaching the most disadvantaged students.

Reading affords students the opportunity to discover their imagination. In an on-going series for The Washington Post blog, “Answer Sheet,” cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham is taking a look at reading in schools. Willingham pointed out in a recent blog that increasing the opportunity for young people to read for pleasure can help improve literacy, motivation, and even independence. Obama might echo Willingham, telling the students in D.C. Thursday that how well they do in life could depend on whether they love reading and learning.

Literacy, The Daily Dish Blog

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