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Obama celebrates Champions of Change at White House

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to a group of educators being honored as ConnectED Champions of Change for taking creative approaches in using technology to enhance learning for students, at the White House in Washington, Nov. 21, 2013. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to a group of educators being honored as ConnectED Champions of Change for taking creative approaches in using technology to enhance learning for students, at the White House in Washington, Nov. 21, 2013. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed 10 educators to the White House Thursday to celebrate their efforts to bring high-speed Internet to schools.

At an event called Champions of Change ConnectED, the president thanked the educators and congratulated them for "making extraordinary contributions in their local communities. And we're learning from you, seeing what works, seeing what has an impact."

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"We call them Champions of Change -- people who have done some innovative work that hopefully can be replicated in other parts of the country once they have good models that are having success," he said.

"In an age when the world's information is just a click away, we've got to bring our schools and our libraries into the 21st century," Obama said. "That's why five months ago I launched an initiative that we're calling ConnectED to bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of American students over the next five years. And this is going to be a top priority for me."

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The president said giving students access to the Internet "is not just about wiring schools; it's about changing students' lives."

"It's about using technology to give students a chance to learn at their own pace, whether they're catching up on a subject or moving ahead to the next level," he said. "It's about giving teachers a better data set so they can see exactly what's working and what isn't for particular students. It's about unleashing a new market for educational devices and apps that will create jobs and spur innovation."

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When the White House announced the initiative in June, it said the average U.S. school has less bandwidth than the average household, and only about 20 percent of students have access to "true high-speed Internet in their classroom."

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