By Steve Holland
ADELPHI, Md. Feb 4 President Barack Obama has a
pen. He has a phone. And on Tuesday, he wielded an iPad to help
make a point about how he hopes to do more for schools without
more funding from Congress.
Obama toured Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland,
where seventh-grade students were using tablets to work on math
problems based on the Rover explorer on Mars.
Obama borrowed a tablet to film his security entourage.
"That's Mike, my Secret Service agent. He never smiles," he
Then he pledged to do more through executive actions and the
bully pulpit -- the pen and the phone -- to modernize classrooms
"It makes vivid and real math and science, in a way that is
more interesting to the students," Obama said in a speech after
his tour of the school, which is among only 30 percent of
schools in the nation with adequate access to high-speed
"That's how it should be for everybody, not just some," he
The school in Adelphi, a middle-class suburb of Washington,
D.C., bought tablets with money from the $847 billion economic
stimulus package Congress passed five years ago.
With Obama's efforts to spend more money on education -- as
well as other programs -- having failed to gain traction in
Congress, he and the White House have tried to find alternative
ways to address issues.
The Federal Communications Commission said it would spend $2
billion over two years to upgrade Internet speed and quality in
15,000 schools serving 20 million students.
Obama also secured pledges from private companies to provide
more than $750 million in devices, software and wireless service
to U.S. students.
The donations include free iPads for poor schools from Apple
Inc, free software from Autodesk Inc,
marked-down software from Microsoft Corp, and donations
of wireless services from AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and
Verizon Communications Inc.
"They want educated customers," Obama said, noting the
companies gain an edge by making more consumers familiar with
"They want customers who are able to get good jobs," he
Obama said he would ask Congress later this year for more
money to help train teachers.
"Technology is not a silver bullet," he said. "It's only as
good as the teachers who are there."