Obama Launches E-Book Initiative For Low-Income Students

1 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama Pushes Reading Through Electronic Books.

President Obama traveled five miles from the White House on Thursday and did something he has never previously done in more than six years in the White House: make an announcement with the mayor of the District of Columbia.

President Obama speaks during a live virtual field trip with students from around the country at the Anacostia Library.(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images) WASHINGTON — President Obama unveiled new reading programs and plugged the value of the desire to learn Thursday during a “virtual field trip” for middle school students.President Obama announced Thursday that a string of major book publishers have pledged $250 million in donations to help low-income kids access electronic versions of around 10,000 of the most popular titles in children’s literature.President Barack Obama said he’ll likely return to the kind of community organizing work that initially propelled him into politics after his presidency ends. Obama announced that nine major publishing houses will donate digital access to about 10,000 of their popular titles, worth about $250 million, to low-income students. Taking questions from audience members and from other middle school students following online, Obama said at one point that books, computers, and other can technology can only take people so far.

President Barack Obama was to announce the two initiatives Thursday at a Washington library as part of his two-year-old ConnectED program that aims to improve education through digital connectivity. In addition, D.C. and about 30 other towns and cities said they would introduce or press ahead with plans to put a library card in the hand of every student, a move that would help give lower income students access to digital books in libraries even if they lacked Internet access at home. “For a lot of people, if they live in a home where they don’t have a lot of books, books can be expensive.

The offer of e-books comes as low-income households still lag far behind others in computer ownership, but White House officials said libraries and schools in poor communities are increasing access to the Internet. The president told students that he wanted to be an architect when he was young, and then aspired to be a basketball player, but “I wasn’t that good.” When the president gave a rather long answer to a student’s question about how to beat writer’s block, the boy eventually cut off Mr. Obama told the students that how well they do in life is going to depend on whether they love reading and learning, and whether they know how to find information and use it. But some critics have pointed out that the e-readers and other electronic devices necessary for reading e-books may not be readily available for all students. At the same time, Obama will appeal to library directors, local governments and school officials to work together to provide universal access to library cards.

Obama spoke about his favorite books growing up — a list that ranged from Hardy Boys mysteries to The Lord of The Rings to The Great Gatsby — and his own writing career as the author of three books. During a question-and-answer session with about 40 students in the room and others participating online, Obama declared his love for turning and marking up the pages of traditional books. The announcement comes just two days after Obama called on Americans to do “some soul searching” in the wake of recurrent black deaths at the hands of police and riots that have shaken minority communities, most recently in Baltimore. “If we’re serious about living up to what our country is about, then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they’re on the front page, but every day,” Zients said. In one of the poorest pockets of the nation’s capital, where the nearest elementary school last recorded a dismal 34 percent proficiency in reading and the closest high school last year graduated just 39 percent of its students, the setting and a beaming mayor in the background offered a perfect, if rarely used, backdrop for Obama. A US Census Bureau study of computer and Internet use demonstrated that only 62 percent of households with incomes under $25,000 owned a computer, compared to 88 percent of households nationwide.

Obama were to return to nonprofit or community building work in the U.S, he would build a post-presidency that differs from both of his immediate predecessors. She also added that Apple Inc. has pledged to donate $100 million in iPads, laptops, and software to underprivileged schools, technology that would facilitate the use of e-books. “More and more, you’re going to be seeing kids using devices, and what we’re doing is making sure that there’s more books available on those devices.” Moreover, the New York Public Library is developing an app to facilitate access to e-books donated by publishers as well as works that are available in the public domain.

More often, he has traveled to suburbs in nearby Maryland or to cities farther afield to illustrate the need for greater investments to help the poor and close the country’s growing economic divide. The president’s arm’s length from D.C. for years coincided with a cloud of scandal that hung over the mayor’s office as a federal investigation into campaign spending on behalf of Gray ground on.

Last fall, however, the president’s interest in D.C. appeared to warm: He endorsed Bowser a month before the general election, calling her a “champion for working and middle-class families and a passionate proponent of Washington, D.C.” “As we continue our efforts to move our country’s economy forward, I know I’ll be able to count on Muriel to expand opportunity for all,” Obama said in the October statement. Outside the library Thursday, a crowd had gathered along Good Hope Road to watch the president’s motorcade make a stop in a part of town he has rarely visited. The program will draw on $2 billion in private-sector commitments and funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for school and library connectivity, which includes $2 billion specifically for Wi-Fi. You’re looking at, like, Grumpy Cat, or some video of your favorite singer,” he said. “We want to make sure that becomes a tool for not just entertainment, not just for talking to your friends, but for learning.” Jeffrey Zients, chairman of the National Economic Council, said that the donations by “an honor roll or major publishers” would provide “opportunity for kids to develop a love of learning.

Asked by a 12-year-old what kind of technology he had in school growing up, Obama replied. “Pencils, and we had pens, and we some colored markers, and erasers, scissors.

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