President Obama Announces Launch of ConnectHome Initiative

Ryan Loftis By Ryan Loftis, 17th Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Politics

A report of President Obama's announcement of a new initiative to increase high-speed Internet access to low-income families.

Obama Touts Benefits of Internet Access for Students, Others

Speaking at Durant High School in Durant, Okla., on the evening of July 15, President Obama announced the launch of ConnectHome Initiative. The federal government is collaborating with the private sector and communities on this initiative, which aims to provide more families nationwide with access to high-speed broadband Internet. The initiative will begin in 28 communities - including such major cities as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Philadelphia - selected by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and provide more than 275,000 low-income households the necessary support to receive the Internet in their homes.

Calling the Internet a "necessity" in today's environment, Obama said, "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."

What are the consequences of this? "A lot of you have heard about this 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," Obama said. "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."

To Obama, such a gap is un-American. "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, no matter where you start off," he said. "That's the essential American story." The idea of countries offering greater high-speed Internet access to their residents - the president specifically mentioned South Korea - having stronger economies than America's is unacceptable to him. "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 racing ahead, that's a recipe for disaster, and it offends our most deeply held values."

Not that students will be the only beneficiaries of the initiative. "This is going to make the difference for a dad who can now 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," Obama said. "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 home."

Students, however, were the president's main focus in his speech. He asked one member of the audience, 16-year-old Kelsey Janway, to stand up. Janway represented the Choctaw Nation at the White House Tribal Youth Gathering last week, and Obama noted that she works two jobs and is a member of 11 organizations despite only having access to "spotty, slow Internet service" both at home and school.

"There are amazing young people like Kelsey all across the country," Obama said. "I meet them everyday. 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."

It's no secret there is bitter partisanship in Washington right now. Obama acknowledged that sometimes he finds it discouraging but declared that Americans of all political beliefs are united as "one family - from the First Americans to the newest Americans. We're one family. We're in this together. We're bound 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."


Internet, President Obama

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author avatar Ryan Loftis
I graduated from Central Michigan University with a journalism degree and have been a freelance writer for various print and online publications since then.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Jul 2015 (#)

We should bridge the divide everywhere for an inclusive society. A young boy in India, serving tea, replied when he was asked who he want to become, emulate - "BigGay" - one of the richest for decades and now more into charity.

Good highlight, thanks Ryan - siva

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author avatar Ryan Loftis
17th Jul 2015 (#)

You're welcome. I completely agree that we should bridge the divide everywhere, and the Internet is the best resource ever to do it. I think it's great that many more people will have access to the Internet as a result of this initiative, and I hope the initiative expands.

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