President urges school superintendents to commit to digital education


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President Barack Obama urged the nation’s 16,000 school superintendents Wednesday to “take the pledge” and commit their districts to support digital education.

Speaking in person to more than 100 school superintendents, education officials and a few invited students gathered in the White House East Room, the president reiterated the importance of getting more schools and communities to use high-speed Internet to advance digital learning.

The president said the nation’s schools need to do more to support students and teachers, giving them the digital tools and the training to prepare young Americans for a world “where the most valuable skill you can sell is knowledge, and the capacity to learn new knowledge.”

As part of Wednesday’s White House ceremony, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the release of two new publications aimed at supporting school leaders in that effort.

One is a toolkit called “Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning.” The toolkit focuses on how districts can use technology to connect educators and provide tailored professional learning experiences to students.

The other publication is a technical assistance guide called “Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning.” The document outlines specific and tangible examples that will help schools improve their technological infrastructure.

School superintendents at a White House signing ceremony Nov. 19, 2014, prepare to submit their digital pledges to expand digital education. (Credit: FedScoop/StateScoop -Wyatt Kash) School superintendents at a White House signing ceremony Wednesday prepare to submit their electronic pledges to expand digital education. (Credit: Wyatt Kash/StateScoop)

But the administration’s primary goal in hosting the event was to get the nation’s thousands of school district superintendents, many of whom watched the event live online, to sign the administration’s “Future Ready District Pledge.”  The pledge provides a framework for helping schools embrace technology in the classroom and help teachers transform the way they teach.

The president also outlined steps toward building a “world-class education” system in the U.S.,  including upgrading the way schools use the Internet.

“Right now, fewer than 40 percent of public schools [in the U.S.] have high-speed Internet in the classrooms. That’s not good, since we invented the Internet!” he said. “It means that in most American schools, teachers can’t use the cutting-edge software and programs that are available tools today.”

The gathering of superintendents marked the latest efforts by the administration to build momentum around the president’s ConnectED Initiative, a plan announced in June 2013 with the goal of connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet. The initiative also places a special emphasis on training and empowering teachers to use technology in the classroom.

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Arne Duncan, broadband, Department of Education, Departments, digital education, Education, Education / STEM, Government IT News, President Obama, White House