President Obama announces plans to increase educational initiatives

Posted on Wednesday, 1/29/2014 4:58 PM

President Barack Obama recently spoke to the nation during his State of the Union address about the importance of education for American children. While he did not release plans for the creation of any new programs, he offered updates on pre-existing projects. Obama highlighted initiatives geared at improving student learning in the classroom, including Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, as he detailed the need for increased interest and emphasis on educating younger children, he illustrated ways in which technology can be best incorporated in the classroom as more teachers and institutions move toward integrating mobile and digital technologies. 

STEM education
The White House has a history of creating programs to engage children in the subject areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. In 2009, Obama unveiled the Educate to Innovate initiative that aimed to garner student interest in these fields, hoping to create a strong workforce dedicated to pushing the country to the top of pack when it comes to achievements in science and mathematics. The government currently invests $3 million annually in STEM education, including providing grants for more student software and funding partnerships with organizations such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

In his address, Obama acknowledged that assessing interest and educational levels in these areas can prove to be difficult, but in the long run, it will be worth it. He remarked that states, officials and schools have raised expectations they have for students, especially in the fields of problem solving, critical thinking and STEM subjects. 

"Some of this change is hard," he said in his speech. "It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it's worth it - and it's working." 

Quality Internet access
Last year, Obama announced his plans to offer high-quality broadband Internet access for 99 percent of the country's students over the course of the next four years. He revealed during the address that in conjunction with the FCC, the government has enlisted the help of major corporations to help spread high-speed Web connectivity to students across the country. Companies include Apple, Sprint, Verizon and Microsoft. Within the next two years, the initiative will reach 15,000 schools and 20 million children, "without adding a dime to the deficit."

By increasing the availability of Internet access to children in all schools, institutions have a greater chance to increase online learning capabilities, including the use of online software and integration of the virtual classroom.

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