Critics wonder if new e-readers in under-funded neighborhoods will produce the effect necessary to boost educational standards.
President Obama revealed on Thursday that he backs many low-income schools to recieve donations of $250 million towards electronic versions of children’s literature. He also pledged to have educational material available at the public library of one of Washington’s poorest neighborhood’s, Anacastia. Major book publishers such as HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are behind the president and the initiative, which is aimed at providing e-books toward nearly 10,000 of the most read children’s titles.
‘We’re going to provide millions of e-books online so that they’re available for young people who maybe don’t have as many books at home or don’t always have access to a full stock of reading materials,’ Obama said. But it remains to be seen if the families from these lower income neighborhoods can actually access the tools used to support e-books. Although e-readers are found in nearly half of American’s homes, only 14 percent of households earning less than $30,000 per year actually own e-readers, according to a study released by Pew Research in 2014.
Tablets and personal computers are means of reading electronic materials, but according to another study of computer and internet use done by the US Census Bureau, 38 percent of low-income households also lack personal computers. An educational boost is clearly needed when, according to government officials, 80 percent of low-income students possess reading skills below their grade level.
Not only are the major publishers contributing, but Apple Inc. has pledged to donate technology that would aid the use of the e-readers in $100 million in iPads, laptops, and software to underprivileged schools. The president is also establishing a policy to maintain that every student has a library card, according to the csmonitor.com.
As times change, more kids are utilizing electronic devices, noted director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Munoz. Schools in the country must keep up with this demand and the national educational standard.
“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,” National Economic Council director Jeff Zients stated.