The News & Observer
June 6, 2013
Lays Out National Internet Access Plan
MOORESVILLE - A half-dozen eighth-graders at Mooresville Middle
School showed President Barack Obama how they use their "smart"
whiteboards by marking up a poem read at his first inauguration.
Circling a metaphor on the board automatically updated an iPad
Mini in a classmate's hand.
Obama told the country he wants every school in the U.S. to
have access to the same level of technology.
the gymnasium of a school that has garnered national attention
for its tech savvy, Obama unveiled Thursday a plan to connect
nearly every U.S. classroom to high-speed broadband and wireless
Internet over the next five years.
said it would use money already budgeted and would not require
authorization or approval by Congress. And he billed it as a
way to boost graduation rates and turn out students more prepared
for tech-related careers.
a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why shouldn't
we have it in our schools?" Obama said. "These are
the tools our children deserve, and there's no reason we can't
remarks capped a whirlwind visit to the Charlotte area, the
president's first since the Democratic National Convention last
fall. It was billed as the third stop on a nationwide tour on
boosting the middle class and job creation. He visited Austin,
Texas, and Baltimore last month.
Air Force One landed near the Charlotte airport, Obama was ferried
by a Marine helicopter caravan to the football field behind
the school in a steady rain.
500 and 600 seventh- and eighth-graders packed into the school's
gym hours in advance of the president's arrival, many of them
with smartphones and tablets in hand. Some high-profile guests
were in attendance as well, including U.S. Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan and actress Claire Danes.
gym was so packed that eight students were sickened by the stifling
heat and were treated by emergency workers. All were rehydrated
and were OK.
the scenesThursday wasn't the first time the White House has
recognized the Mooresville Graded School District for its technology.
District Superintendent Mark Edwards has been invited to speak
on White House panels and briefed Duncan on his district's efforts.
Edwards was also named national Superintendent of the Year by
the American Association of School Administrators earlier this
student from fourth grade to 12th grade is issued a MacBook
Air to use at school and to take home. Classrooms use laptops,
iPads and interactive whiteboards.
the president's speech, he met with about 10 students in the
school's media center.Two students in a math class demonstrated
a project that simulated an M&M-selling business project
they put together on MacBooks. They showed him graphs they'd
put together with their expenses and revenues."Those are
profits right here? That's what I'm talking about," Obama
said when shown the students' graphs. "That's excellent.
I'm ready to buy one."
math class showed the video explaining rational and irrational
numbers they'd cut using iMovie, a video-editing program. And
the language arts students showed an "active reading"
assignment, using the poem " Praise Song for the Day,"
composed and read by Elizabeth Alexander at Obama's 2009 inauguration.
every child a shot'
methods have gotten results. Despite spending among the least
per pupil, the district had among the highest graduation rates,
Obama said in his speech.
some of their methods would particularly help rural and low-income
schools that don't have speedy Internet service or teachers
trained to use technology, he said. Fewer than 20 percent of
teachers say their classroom's Internet access is adequate,
the White House said earlier Thursday.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools have jumped into digital access
as well. Project LIFT, the five-year, $55 million initiative
aimed at boosting performance in west Charlotte schools, includes
a subsidized package that gives students a netbook computer
and a year's worth of wireless Internet for $150.
the country can bring its schools into the digital age, Obama
said, there's no reason why it can't take other steps to improve
education, such as hiring more teachers in science, math and
technology and making sure that middle-class families aren't
priced out of a college education.
have to give every child a shot at the success they deserve,"
the raucous reception, Obama's visit to Mooresville was something
of a trip into hostile territory. Iredell County voted 65 percent
for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in last year's election.
Mooresville's eight districts went 67 percent for Romney, state
voting data show.
North Carolina Republicans criticized the trip before Air Force
One even touched down.
party Chairman Robin Hayes and U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a
Cherryville Republican, held a conference call to describe the
trip as a distraction from scandals in Washington, like the
investigation into whether the IRS targeted conservative groups.
They also challenged his record on job creation.
we welcome the president once again to the state of North Carolina,
his record of achievement has not been one of success for average
North Carolinians," McHenry said. "His economic record
speaks for itself. We have a sluggish growth rate, and many
Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger said he is glad the Mooresville
school district is getting more recognition and hopes Obama
learns something when he's there."President Obama should
pay close attention to their method of success, and also to
the fact that Mooresville has one of the smallest budgets out
of the 115 school districts in North Carolina," he said
in a statement. "More money and more bureaucrats do not
lead to success. Good leaders, dedicated teachers, and proactive
community involvement is the key, especially when we give them
the freedom to make decisions at the local level."
didn't keep local elected officials from turning out Thursday.
Several said the event had nothing to do with politics.
not going to embarrass the school system and not be here,"
said Iredell County commissioner Ken Robertson, a Republican.
writers Joe Marusak, Liz Crampton and Sarah Ellis contributed.