Erick Payne | Senior Producer
President Barack Obama made a special visit to Durant, Oklahoma today and announced his ConnectHome initiative coming to the Choctaw Nation.
ConnectHome is a pilot program designed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that will debut in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation, providing low cost internet access to around 200,000 children in low income households.
Obama says all American students should have access to high-speed internet, regardless of their ability to pay for it.
“If you’re not connected today, it’s very hard for you to understand what’s going on in our economy… It’s still hard to reach for many Americans,” he said. “We’re going to make sure everyone has access to high-speed broadband internet.”
“In this digital age… the internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity. You cannot connect with today’s economy without being connected to the internet,” Obama said.
Obama also says that the U.S needs to do better for Native Americans, stating that although the country can’t erase the past, we can create a new path to the future.
The Choctaw Nation is one of President Obama’s “Promise Zones”, designed to create jobs and economic security.
President Obama shared the story of one of the young Choctaw girls he met.
Kelsey, 16, is only able to get internet or phone signal if she stands in a specific spot outside, or on a windowsill in her home.
Obama says this should no longer be an issue for children in America, because they deserve the best.
He explained how being unable to get internet in our age of information can quickly grow to a bigger issue.
“This starts with an access to learning gap…which eventually becomes an economic gap. That’s not what America is about. America doesn’t’ guarantee you success, but if you are willing to work hard and take responsibly, you have a chance to succeed.”
President Obama will visit the Federal Correctional Facility in El Reno, Oklahoma tomorrow to participate in a Vice News special on the impacts of America’s approach to imprisonment. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit a federal prison.