Full Text Obama Presidency July 15, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Launch of ConnectHome Initiative to connect low-income homes to the internet Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Launch of ConnectHome Initiative

Source: WH, 7-15-15

Durant High School
Durant, Oklahoma

6:07 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Oklahoma!  (Applause.)  Halito!

AUDIENCE:  Halito!

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  It’s good to see you.  How is everybody doing?  (Applause.)

First of all, Michelle says hi.  (Laughter.)  And I want to thank all of you for helping to build the terrific partnership that we share with the Choctaw Nation.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you, too.  (Laughter.)  So I want to first of all thank Chief Gary Batton and the many tribal leaders who are here today.  (Applause.)  I want to thank the extraordinary young people that I just had a chance to meet with.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  They were just exceptional, and gave me all kinds of interesting thoughts and ideas about how young people can lead and thrive, and reshape America.  And I could not be prouder of them.

As many of you know, we’ve held a Tribal Nations Conference each year that I’ve been President.  And just last week, as part of what we call our Generation Indigenous initiative, focused on young people, we hosted our first-ever Tribal Youth Gathering with over 1,000 young leaders from 230 tribes -– including several Choctaw youth.  (Applause.)  You spend time with these young people from all across the country and they will blow you away.  They are smart, and they’re passionate, and they are ready to seize the future.

And Michelle and I believe we’ve got a special obligation to make sure that tribal youth have every opportunity to achieve their potential not just for the benefit of themselves and their communities, but for our entire nation; that all of you young people have a chance to succeed not by leaving your communities, but by coming back and investing in your communities, and that you have a whole range of options that can lift us all up.  And so we are really excited about what you’re doing, and we’re really excited about some of the work that’s going to be done not just here but all across the country.  That’s why I’m here today.

When you step back and look at everything that we’ve done in the past six and a half years to rebuild our economy on a new foundation –- from retooling our industries to rethinking our schools, reforming our health care system –- all of it’s been in pursuit of one goal, and that’s creating opportunity for all people — not just some, but everybody.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the hard work and the resilience of the American people, the work we’ve done is paying off.  So our businesses have created 2.8 12.8 million new jobs over the past 64 months in a row.  That’s the longest streak of private sector job growth on record.  (Applause.)  The housing market is stronger.  The stock market recovered, so people’s 401(k)s and retirement accounts got replenished.  More than 16 million Americans now have the financial security of having health insurance.  (Applause.)  We’ve invested in clean energy.  We’ve made ourselves more independent of foreign oil.  We’ve seen jumps in high school enrollment and college graduation rates.

So across the board, there’s really no economic measure where we’re not doing better than we were when I came into office.  That’s the good news.  But I also made it clear when I came into office that even as we’re trying to make sure the entire economy recovers, we also have to pay attention to those communities that all too often have been neglected and fallen behind.  And as part of that, I said we’re going to do better by our First Americans.  We’re going to do better.  (Applause.)

Now, we can’t reverse centuries of history — broken treaties, broken promises.  But I did believe that we could come together as partners and forge a new path based on trust and respect.  And that’s what we’ve tried to do.  So we strengthened the sovereignty of tribal nations.  We gave more power to tribal courts and police.  We restored hundreds of thousands of acres of tribal trust lands.  We expanded opportunity by permanently reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and helping businesses, and building roads, and moving forward on renewable energy projects in Indian Country.  We untied tribal hands when it came to dealing with domestic violence, which was really important.  (Applause.)

Here in Oklahoma, we designated the Choctaw Nation as one of America’s first Promise Zones -– areas where the federal government is partnering with local communities and businesses to jumpstart economic development and job creation, expand educational opportunities, and increase affordable housing, and improve public safety.  And as a result, you’ve already received federal investments in Early Head Start, to make sure our young people are getting the best possible beginning in life; child care, job training, support for young entrepreneurs.  And I’ve called on Congress to pass a Promise Zone tax credit to encourage employment and private sector investment in places like this.  (Applause.)

So we’ve made a lot of progress not just in Indian Country but in America as a whole.  But we’ve got more work to do.  We’ve got more work to do, especially because the economy around the globe is changing so fast.

So today, I want to focus on one way we can prepare our kids and our workers for an increasingly competitive world, a way that we can help our entrepreneurs sell more goods here at home and overseas, a way where we can get every American ready to seize the opportunities of a 21st century economy.

Today, we’re going to take another step to close the digital divide in America, and make sure everybody in America has access to high-speed broadband Internet.  (Applause.)  We’re taking some initiatives today to make that happen.

Now, I don’t really have to tell you why this is important.  Even old folks like me know it’s important.  In this digital age, when you can apply for a job, take a course, pay your bills, order a pizza, even find a date — (laughter) — by tapping your phone, the Internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  You cannot connect with today’s economy without having access to the Internet.  Now, that doesn’t mean I want folks on the Internet all the time.  I always tell young people when I meet them, sometimes they just have the phone up, I’m standing right in front of them — (laughter) — and I got to tell them, young man, put down that phone.  Shake the hand of your President.  (Laughter.)  And then after you shake my hand and look me in the eye, and told me your name, then you can maybe go back to taking pictures.  (Laughter.)  So there’s nothing wrong with every once in a while putting the technology aside and actually having a conversation.  This is something I talk to Malia and Sasha about.  We don’t let tose phones at the dinner — but that’s a whole other story.  I went off track.

But if you’re not connected today, then it’s very hard for you to understand what’s happening in our economy.  Now, here’s the problem.  While high-speed Internet access is a given, it’s assumed for millions of Americans, it’s still out of reach for too many people — especially in low-income and rural communities.  More than 90 percent of households headed by a college graduate use the Internet.  Fewer than half of households with less than a high school education are plugged into the Internet.  So, in other words, the people who could benefit the most from the latest technology are the least likely to have it.

So if you’re a student and you don’t have Internet access at home, that means you could be struggling to type papers or do online homework assignments, or learn basic computer skills, or try to get help from your teacher.  You may have to wait in long lines at public libraries or even in parking lots at the local McDonald’s just to try to get digital access.  And what that means is you’re not learning the critical tech skills required to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.

And this has consequences.  A lot of you have heard about the achievement gap, how some kids in certain groups consistently lag behind, and the opportunity gap, where certain groups have a tougher time getting attached to the labor market.  Well, this starts with a “homework gap” for a lot of young people, and an “access to learning” gap, which then can translate into a science gap or a math gap, and eventually becomes an economic gap for our country.  And that’s not what America is about.  America doesn’t guarantee you success.  That’s never been the promise.  But what America does stand for — has to stand for — is if you’re willing to work hard and take responsibility, then you can succeed — (applause) — no matter where you start off.

That’s the essential American story.  That’s why we admire stories like Abraham Lincoln’s.  Starts off in a log cabin, teaches himself to read and write, and becomes our greatest President.  That’s what America is supposed to be about.

And in an increasingly competitive global economy, our whole country will fall behind unless we’re got everybody on the field playing.  Obviously, as President, you travel around a lot, and you go to countries like South Korea where a higher percentage of the population has high-speed broadband — and, by the way, they pay their teachers the way they pay their doctors — (applause) — and they consider education to be at the highest rung of the professions.  Well, we will start falling behind those countries — which is unthinkable when we invented the stuff.  It’s American ingenuity that created the Internet, that created all these technologies.  And the notion that now we’d leave some Americans behind in being able to use that, while other countries are raising ahead, that’s a recipe for disaster, and it offends our most deeply held values.

A child’s ability to succeed should not be based on where she lives, how much money her parents make.  That’s not who we are as a country.  We’ve got a different standard.  We’re a people who believe we should be able to go as far as our talents and hard work will take us.  And just because you don’t have money in your household to buy fancy technology, that should not be an obstacle.

We’ve been doing a lot to encourage coding and STEM education — math and science and technology education.  And unfortunately, for too many of our kids, that’s something that’s viewed as out of reach.  Listen, people are not born coders.  It’s not as if suddenly if you’re born in Silicon Valley you can figure out how to code a computer.  That’s not — what happens is kids get exposed to this stuff early, and they learn, they soak it up like sponges.

And somewhere among the millions of young people who don’t have access to the digital world could be the next Mark Zuckerberg, the next Bill Gates.  Some of them might be right here in the Choctaw Nation.  (Applause.)  But only if we make sure you have access and exposure.  If we don’t give these young people the access to what they need to achieve their potential, then it’s our loss, it’s not just their loss.

So that’s why my administration has made it a priority to connect more Americans to the Internet, and close that digital divide that people have been talking about for 20 years now.  We’ve invested so far in more than 100,000 miles of network infrastructure; that’s enough to circle the globe four times.  We’ve laid a lot of line.  We’ve supported community broadband.  We’ve championed net neutrality rules to make sure that the Internet providers treat all web traffic equally.  And then we launched something called ConnectEd, and this was targeted at making sure that every school was connected and classrooms were connected.  And we’re now well on our way to connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband in their classrooms by 2018, and that includes here in Durant.  (Applause.)

So far, 29 million more students in 55,000 schools are on track to have access to high-speed broadband, and 20 million more have Wi-Fi in their classrooms.  And last year, when I visited Standing Rock Nation in North Dakota, I announced that Verizon would connect 10 Native student dorms, Microsoft would donate more tablets to more Native students, including students right here in Oklahoma.  So we’ve been making progress.  We’re chipping away this thing.

But today, we’re going to go further.  I’m announcing a new initiative called ConnectHome.  Now, ConnectEd, the idea was making sure the schools were connected and that you didn’t have a situation where in a classroom, even if it was connected to the Internet, you could only have one student at a time or a couple of computers at a time.  So we had to make sure that the classroom was state of the art.  ConnectHome is designed to make high-speed Internet more affordable to residents in low-income housing units across the country — because young people today, they’re not just learning in the classroom, they’re learning outside the classroom as well.  So my Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to work with 28 communities, from Boston to Durham, from Seattle to Durant.  About 200,000 of our most vulnerable children and their families will soon be able to access affordable Internet in their home.  (Applause.)

Now, I want to give credit where credit is due.  This is not something government does by itself.  I’m proud to say that folks around the country are stepping up to do their part.  So businesses like Cox are providing low-cost Internet and devices.  Best Buy is committing free computer education and technical support so that folks learn how to make the most of the Internet.  Organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs will teach digital literacy so that kids in this community can be just as savvy as kids growing up in Silicon Valley.  You’ve got non-profits like EveryoneOn and U.S. Ignite who are going to help make this work on the ground.  So we’ve got some great businesses and some great non-for-profits who are partnering with us on this.

But most importantly, it really requires all of us to be involved — parents, principals, teachers, neighbors — because we have to demand the best in our schools and for our kids.

These investments are the right thing to do for our communities.  They’re the smart thing to do for the national economy.  And we can’t allow shortsighted cuts to the programs that are going to keep us competitive.

So this is a smart investment.  These are the kinds of investments we need to make.  Sometimes there’s a debate going on in Washington about the size of government and what we should be spending on.  And look, I’ve said before, there are programs in Washington that don’t work, and we don’t want taxpayer money wasted.  But there are some investments that we make in future generations, there are investments we make in things that help all of us that we can’t do by ourselves.  We’re not going to build a road by ourselves; we’ve got to do that together.  We’re not going to invest in basic research to solve Alzheimer’s by ourselves.  At least I don’t have enough money to do that.  We’ve got to do that together.  I’ll pay some tax dollars, we’ll pool our money, and then we all invest in the research because we all stand to benefit at some point.  We don’t know when we might get sick, and it’s good for us to keep that cutting edge of science.

Well, the same thing is true when it comes to schools and investing in our young people, making sure that they’ve got the tools they need to succeed.  So this idea of ConnectHome, just like ConnectEd, this is going to make the difference for a dad who can now — because it’s not just for the kids — now he can learn a new skill and apply for a better job after work, because he’s working a tough shift to pay the rent, but he knows he wants to advance.  He may be able to take an online course because he’s got access to the Internet — and that could make all the difference in his family and his future.  This will make a difference for the young entrepreneur — got a great idea, wants to start a business.  Can start it from her home.  This will make a difference for the student who can now download the resources he needs to study for that exam that’s coming up, and then maybe come up with a new theory that’s going to make a difference in our understanding of the world.

This will make a difference for young people like Kelsey Janway.  Where’s Kelsey?  There’s Kelsey, right here.  (Applause.)  Stand up, Kelsey, so everybody can see you.  All right, Kelsey, I know this is embarrassing, so you can sit down for a second.  (Laughter.)

Kelsey is 16 years old, a proud member of the Choctaw Nation.  This might be a game-changer for her.   When she was younger, her family only got phone reception if they stood on a particular rock in their yard, or on the top window sill in their bathroom.  Is that right?

MS. JANWAY:  Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  You remember the rock.

MS. JANWAY:  Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  It was this particular rock.  So today she has spotty, slow Internet service at home.  And at school, service is just as bad — which makes it tough for students like Kelsey to learn the skills they need for success.  Meanwhile, a high school nearby has much better technology; it gives those kids an advantage that she doesn’t have.

Now, even though she’s seen many of her peers get caught up in trouble or lose motivation and maybe drop out of school, Kelsey is keeping on pushing.  She works two jobs, belongs to 11 organizations.  Now, we’re going to need to talk about that.  That’s a lot of organizations.  I don’t know where you’re finding that time.  (Applause.)  She’s leading a youth council where she helps guide some of her peers.  And she says that even the slow Internet that she’s got — probably that buffer and things coming up all the time is getting on her nerves.  Nevertheless, that’s opened her mind and introduced her to views outside of her own.  “I have a sense of a bigger world out there.”  That’s what Kelsey says.

And that glimpse of what’s possible, that can change everything.  So last week, Kelsey represented Choctaw Nation at the White House Tribal Youth Gathering.  Had a chance to hear from Michelle, right?  And she plans to return to the White House one day — as President.  So I’m just keeping the seat warm for her until she gets there.  (Laughter.)  But I wanted to point out Kelsey having to stand on a rock trying to get phone service as an example of what we’re talking about here.

There are amazing young people like Kelsey all across the country.  I meet them every day.  Talented, smart, capable; of every race, of every ethnicity, every faith, every background.  They’ve got big dreams.  They’re just poised to succeed, and they’re willing to work through all kinds of obstacles to make great things happen.  But they’ve got big dreams — we’ve got to have an interest in making sure that they can achieve those dreams.  Kelsey, these young people, young people all across the country — they deserve a country that believes in those dreams, and that invests in those dreams, and that loves them for their dreams.  (Applause.)

And ultimately, that’s what America is about.  You know, I know sometimes folks get discouraged about Washington — I know I do — because the arguments between the parties are just so stark, and all the differences are exaggerated, and what attracts attention and gets on the news on TV is conflict and shouting and hollering.  And as a consequence, everybody kind of goes into their corners and nobody agrees to anything, and nothing gets done, and everybody gets cynical and everybody gets frustrated.

But the thing is that for all our disagreements, for all our debates, we are one family.  And we may squabble just like families do, but we’re one family — from the First Americans to the newest Americans.  We’re one family.  We’re in this together.  We’re bound by a shared commitment to leave a better world for our children.  We’re bound together by a commitment to make sure that that next generation has inherited all the blessings that we inherited from the previous generation.

And that requires work on our part.  It requires sacrifice.  It requires compromise.  And it requires that we invest in that future generation; that we’re thinking not just about taking care of our own kids — because I know Malia and Sasha will be fine — but I want to make sure Kelsey is fine.  I want to make sure every one of these young people are fine.  I want to make sure that some kid stuck in the inner city somewhere, that they’ve got a shot.  I can’t do it for them, but I want to make sure at least that they’ve got a shot.  I want to make sure that somebody down in some little border town in Texas, whose parents maybe never went to college, that they’ve got a dream and they’ve got a shot.

And I’m willing to do something about that.  And we all have to be.  When we make those commitments to all of our children, the great thing about it is the blessings are returned back to us — because you end up having a workforce that is better educated, which means suddenly companies want to locate, which means businesses start booming, which means businesses start hiring, which means everybody does better.

So not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.  That’s our tradition.  It’s not Democratic or Republican; it is the American tradition.  And we forget that sometimes because we’re so caught up in our day-to-day politics, and we listen to a bunch of hooey on TV or talk radio — (laughter) — that doesn’t really tell the truth about what’s going on.  (Applause.)

So I’m proud of Kelsey.  I’m proud of these young people.  I’m proud of Choctaw Nation.  And I surely am proud of these United States of America.  Let’s get to work and make sure we’re leaving the kind of country we want for our kids.

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
6:37 P.M. EDT

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Political Headlines June 6, 2013: President Barack Obama Announces Broadband-for-Schools Project at North Carolina Middle School

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Announces Broadband-for-Schools Project at NC Middle School

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-6-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama on Thursday called for wider access to high-speed Internet in schools, prodding the Federal Communications Commission to work toward an aggressive goal that he first proposed in 2008.

“In a country where we expect free WiFi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools?” Obama asked during a visit to Mooresville Middle School outside of Charlotte, N.C….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 6, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Mooresville Middle School, Mooresville, North Carolina About Bringing America’s Students into the Digital Age & Technology

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Bringing America’s Students into the Digital Age

Source: WH, 6-6-13

President Barack Obama views student projects created on laptops during a tour at Mooresville Middle SchoolPresident Barack Obama views student projects created on laptops during a tour at Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, N.C., June 6, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Update: Read President Obama’s remarks in Mooresville here

Today, in Mooresville, North Carolina the President is announcing a bold and transformative education initiative to breathe life into the classroom of the 21st century. The goal of the President’s ConnectED initiative is to bring high-speed Internet connections to 99 percent of America’s students – which he is calling on the FCC to do within five years….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at Mooresville Middle School — Mooresville, NC

Source: WH, 6-6-13

Mooresville, North Carolina

3:03 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Hello, Mooresville!  (Applause.)  Hello, Mooresville.  It is good to be back in North Carolina.  (Applause.)  Now, first of all, I want to thank my staff for being smart enough to schedule a visit right before school lets out.  (Laughter.)  Because that means everybody is in a good mood.  (Laughter.)  However, Principal Tulbert told me that if I wanted to visit, I had to follow school rules.  And since we just recited the Pledge of Allegiance, let me say that, “It’s always a great day to be a Red Imp.”  (Applause.)  I gather some of you are going to be Blue Devils next year.  (Applause.)  Being an Imp is okay, but I guess being a Devil — (laughter.)

I want to thank Maureen for the wonderful introduction, but more importantly, for the great work that she and all the staff at this school are doing.  I could not be more impressed with the teachers and the administrators.  So give it up for them.  Students, clap for your teachers.  (Applause.)  You may not realize how lucky you are to have great, dedicated teachers, but as a parent, I realize how important that is.  And so we can’t thank them enough.

I want to make sure everybody knows that we’ve got one of the finest Secretaries of Education we’ve ever had in Arne Duncan, who’s here.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Miles Atkins, is in the house.  (Applause.)  And Superintendent Edwards is here, who’s doing such great work.  So give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  So I want to thank you for inviting me here today.  I know it’s a little warm in here, as it always is in a school gym.  But I was spending a lot of time talking to the students, and they were showing me such incredible work that I got kind of carried away.

I’ve come here to Mooresville to announce an important step that we’re taking to grow our economy and to reignite the engine that powers our economy — and that’s a rising and thriving middle class where everybody has opportunity.

Over the past four and a half years, we have been fighting back from the worst recession since the Great Depression, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and the sense of security that they’ve worked so hard to build.  And North Carolina got hit worse than a lot of states.

But thanks to the grit and the determination of the American people, folks are starting to come back.  Our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months; 530 [thousand] of those jobs are new manufacturing jobs that help us sell goods made in America all around the world.  We’re producing more of our own energy.  We’re consuming less energy from other countries.  The housing market and the stock markets are rebounding.  Our deficit is shrinking.  People’s retirement savings are growing.  The American auto industry has come roaring back.

So we’re getting traction.  The gears to the economy are turning.  We’re starting to make progress.  But we’ve got to build on that progress.  Because while the economy is growing, there’s still a lot of families out there who feel like they’re working harder and harder but can’t get ahead.  And the middle class has to be prospering — not just folks at the very top.  That’s got to be our focus:  a growing economy — (applause) — we’ve got to have a growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs.  That’s got to be the North Star that guides all of our efforts.

Now, what that means — I said this in my State of the Union address — every day, we’ve got to ask ourselves three questions as a nation.  Number one, how do we make America a magnet for good jobs?  Number two, how do we make sure our workers, our people, have the skills and education they need to do those jobs?  And then, number three, how do we make sure that those jobs pay well so that hard work leads to a decent living?

But the reason I’m here today is because you are helping to answer that second question:  How do we make sure Americans have the chance to earn the best skills and education possible?  That’s why I came to Mooresville.  Because at a moment when the rest of the world is trying to out-educate us, we’ve got to make sure that our young people — all you guys — have every tool that you need to go as far as your talents and your dreams and your ambitions and your hard work will take you.  (Applause.)

So that’s the spirit that’s reflected in the motto of your school district — “every child, every day.”  It’s that fundamental belief that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, every child can learn.  Every child can succeed.  Every child, every day, deserves that chance.  We’ve got an obligation to give every young person that chance.  (Applause.)

And that means making sure we’ve got the best teachers and giving those teachers support and paying them what they deserve.  (Applause.)  Yes.  All the teachers say, amen.

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  It requires parents who are more active and involved.  Parents, school is not a passive thing where you just dump off your kids, they come back and somehow automatically they learn.  You’ve got to be involved in the education process.  It requires smarter schools that are safer places to learn.  And in an age when the world’s information is a just click away, it demands that we bring our schools and libraries into the 21st century.  We can’t be stuck in the 19th century when we’re living in a 21st century economy.

And that’s why, today, we’re going to take a new step to make sure that virtually every child in America’s classrooms has access to the fastest Internet and the most cutting-edge learning tools.  And that step will better prepare our children for the jobs and challenges of the future and it will provide them a surer path into the middle class.  And, as a consequence, it will mean a stronger, more secure economy for all of us.

Specifically, today, I am directing the Federal Communications Commission, which is the FCC, to begin a process that will connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed broadband Internet within five years.  Within five years we’re going to get it done.  (Applause.)

Now, those of you here at Mooresville understand why this is important, but I’m speaking to a larger audience, so I want to explain why this is important.  Today, the average American school has about the same bandwidth as the average American home, even though obviously there are 200 times as many people at school as there are at home.  Only around 20 percent of our students have access to true high-speed Internet in their classroom.  By comparison, South Korea has 100 percent of its kids with high-speed Internet.  We’ve got 20 percent; South Korea 100 percent.  In countries where — in a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools?  Right?  (Applause.)  Why wouldn’t we have it available for our children’s education?

So the good news is, here in Mooresville, you’ve committed yourself to this cause.  Starting in the third grade, as all of you know because you’ve lived through it, every student in the district gets a laptop and high-speed, wireless Internet in the classroom.

And I just saw the ways that it’s changing how you learn.  You don’t just write papers and take tests.  You’re working together on videos and presentations and movies and poetry.  Your high school Spanish class might Skype with students in Barcelona or Buenos Aires.  One student proudly said, “We’re able to work on more projects and homework outside of class.”  Now that’s not normally something teenagers brag about.  (Laughter.)  But that’s exactly the attitude that’s going to help you succeed and help your country succeed.

And as I was learning in talking to some of the teachers here, it’s helping the teachers, too.  Because if a student is falling behind, a teacher is seeing it in real time.

Did somebody fall down?  One thing you guys got to do, by the way — bend your knees a little bit when you’re standing.  If you stand up straight — I’m just giving you a tip so you don’t faint — (laughter) — which happens all the time, and it’s really embarrassing.  (Laughter.)  But if you already did, you should sit down.

But it gives teachers the ability to see in real time what students need help, who is falling behind, and then offer extra help.  If you’ve already mastered a lesson, you can move on to the next one.  So as one teacher said, “The thing I’m most proud of is not the technology, it’s the relationships I can build with the students that I teach.”

Now, here at this school, this has only been going on for a few years.  But so far, the results have been remarkable.  Graduation rates are up.  Last year, out of 115 school districts in North Carolina, you ranked in the bottom 10 in the amount of money you spend per student, but you ranked number two in student achievement.  Number two.  (Applause.)  So you’re spending less money getting better outcomes.  And around the country, educators have started to take notice.  So many people want to see this school for themselves that there’s a waiting list for tours all the way into 2014.

But here’s the thing:  As special as what you’ve done is, I don’t want this success to be restricted to one school or one school district.  There is no reason why we can’t replicate the success you’ve found here.  And imagine what that will mean for our country.

Imagine a young girl growing up on a farm in a rural area who can now take an AP biology or AP physics class, even if her school is too small to offer it.  Imagine a young boy with a chronic illness that means he can’t go to school, but now he can join his classmates via Skype or FaceTime and fully participate in what’s going on.

Imagine educators spending fewer hours teaching to a test, more time helping kids learn in new and innovative ways.  Imagine more businesses starting here and hiring here in this area, in North Carolina, because they know for a fact that we’ve committed ourselves to equipping all of our kids with better skills and education than any place else on Earth.  That’s what we need.  (Applause.)

So over the next five years, we’re going to partner with private companies to put people to work laying fiber optic cables to our schools and setting up wireless connections in our schools with speeds 10 to 100 times faster than what most schools have today.  We’re going to work with states to give teachers who want to use these technologies in the classroom the professional development that they need, because I was talking to Ms. Tulbert and she said, for all the teachers here, it took some adaptation to get used to these new technologies.

Once all these classrooms are wired for superfast Internet, that means a big new market for private innovation — America’s companies who created the computers and smartphones and tablets that we all use —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s okay.  This happens.  They’ll be all right.  Just give them a little space.  That’s why we’ve got the medics here.  They’ll be okay.

Oh, teachers give me some tips here.  I’ve lost their attention.  (Laughter.)  All right, everybody.  Right over here.

So what we’re going to be able to do is to get companies to compete to create affordable digital devices designed specifically to these new connected classrooms.  I want to see a tablet that’s the same price as a textbook.  (Applause.)  I want to see more apps that can be instantly updated with academic content the day it’s available, so you don’t have old, outdated textbooks with student names still in them from years ago.  These are the tools that our children deserve.

And there’s no reason we can’t do all this.  If you think about the history of America, we united a continent by rail.  We stretched a network of highways from sea to shining sea.  We brought light to dark and remote areas.  We connected the world through the Internet, through our imagination.  All these projects created jobs.  All these projects grew our economy.  They also unified the country and they are unifying the world.  And this project we’re talking about today can do the same thing.  I am determined to see it through on behalf of our kids.  (Applause.)

And for those of you who follow politics in Washington, here’s the best news — none of this requires an act of Congress.  (Applause.)  We can and we will get started right away.  Yes, we can.  (Applause.)  Look, there are all kinds of things I do need Congress to do, and I want to work with them everywhere I can.  But where we’ve got an opportunity to just go ahead and do something that’s going to help our young people, help our teachers, help our education system, help this economy, help our middle class, help to create jobs, we’ve just got to go ahead and do it.  (Applause.)  This is something we have to do for the sake of our kids and our future.

But there are other things that I’m going to be working with Congress to do that will improve our education system on behalf of our kids and our future.  Because if we can bring our kids and our schools into the digital age, you can’t tell me we can’t start improving our early-childhood education system and making high-quality preschool available to every child in America.  (Applause.)

You can’t tell me that we can’t find the wherewithal to hire even more good teachers in science and math and technology and engineering.

You can’t tell me that we can’t rethink and redesign our high schools, or partner with colleges and businesses to put our young people on the path of jobs — not just today’s jobs, but tomorrow’s jobs.

We can make sure that middle-class families aren’t priced out of a college education.  We can make sure that interest rates on federal student loans don’t double for students and parents at the end of this month.  (Applause.)  I want to work with Democrats and Republicans to keep those rates low.

How many students here expect to go to college?  I expect all of them to raise their hand.  (Applause.)  So we’ve got to make sure that college is affordable for every young person, and that’s going to require some help from Congress.

But we have to give every child, every day, the shot at success that they deserve.  Every day.  (Applause.)  FDR once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”  And as long as I’m President, I’m going to keep fighting with everything I’ve got to build a better future for our young people and to give them a chance to build their own future.  That’s how we’re going to strengthen our middle class.  That’s how we’ll secure America’s future for generations to come.  That’s what I’m going to fight for as President of the United States.  That’s why I’m so proud of all of you here at Mooresville.

Congratulations, everybody.  Have a great summer.  God bless you.  God bless America.

END
3:22 P.M. EDT

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