White House staff and tech executives talked about education in social media chats the day after the 2014 State of the Union address.
In President Barack Obama's address (transcript) on Tuesday, Jan. 28, he talked about high-speed broadband, high-tech manufacturing hubs, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Here are some excerpts from the address on those three topics:
"Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit."
"We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies. Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work."
"Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working."
In a Twitter chat, Jeff Livingston fielded questions about broadband and STEM in his role as the senior vice president of education policy at McGraw-Hill Education.
But not everyone agrees that the United States should focus on high-speed broadband.
I'm not sure getting broadband is a good goal when we have so many failing schools. #sotuedu— Patrice Gonzalez (@SoclyXceptional) January 29, 2014
On the topic of STEM, Livingston addressed some of the challenges with getting students career-ready in these fields.
Speaking of STEM preparation, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke strongly in a Google Hangout about the importance of bringing passionate, confident teachers into STEM classrooms. He said more students will pursue high-paying STEM careers with the help of talent, teachers, principals and technology.
"Far too often, I think students turn off of the STEM fields because their teachers aren't comfortable teaching that and they don't have that passion for it," said Duncan, who answered questions on the hangout. "Attracting the next generation of great talent to come into our classrooms is hugely important. Where you have those teachers who love the STEM fields, students will pick up that love, that passion almost via osmosis."
He also talked about why it's so important to have high-speed broadband in 99 percent of schools. Private companies are picking up some of the tab for broadband.
"Technology can be a great equalizer in making sure children - whether it's in inner-city communities, whether it's in rural areas, remote areas, Native American reservations - making sure they have access to high-speed broadband I think can be a great equalizer and game changer as well."