The panel will call for a public-private initiative to put laptops, tablets and other devices into the hands of all students by 2020, beginning with middle school students and making sure that low-income students and those who attend schools in poorly funded districts are included. Money that is no longer being spent to buy printed textbooks, as is the case in Mooresville, could be redirected to help pay for the devices.
The commission's other recommendations include:
â¿¿Speeding up the adoption of digital curricula, including by creating an independent certification program to identify approved, high-quality programs.
â¿¿Highlighting the work of model schools, such as in Mooresville, to encourage other schools.
â¿¿Spending more money to train teachers to use digital curricula and other technologies.
Gene Sperling, an economic policy adviser to Obama, said the blueprint is an important step toward the president's goal of "bringing classrooms across America into the 21st century and allowing our students to engage in the individualized digital learning that will help them compete in today's economy."
The commission was tasked by the Education Department and the FCC with coming up with a plan to move the U.S. education system toward digital learning to help improve student performance and help the U.S. stay competitive with other countries, such as South Korea. All classrooms in South Korea have high-speed Internet and printed textbooks are being phased out, Obama said last week.
Besides Steyer, who teaches at Stanford University and is CEO of Common Sense Media, the panel's three other chairmen are Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, former U.S. education secretary Margaret Spellings and Jim Coulter, co-founder of TPG Capital, a private equity firm.
Spellings, who served under President George W. Bush, said in an interview that the commission is trying to convey through its report that the proposed transformation of the U.S. education system "is possible and it is possible to do it in the relative near term."