Apple's Tim Cook Says Student Have Right to ‘Great Public Education’

PHOTO: Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 8, 2015.David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 8, 2015.

Tuskegee Public School in Alabama is among 114 others in 29 states that are starting the school year with Apple iPads, technology that many children haven’t experienced before.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is focusing on an academic revolution that aims to prepare these students for the 21st century.

The tech giant is part of the White House initiative known as ConnectED. The goal of the program is to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools to good technology.

Cook spoke with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts about the company’s goals within the program.

“I think technology has to be a key part [of education] and that’s why we’re here,” Cook said. “Too many times today kids aren't given the right for a great public education and this isn't right. It's not fair.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without a great public education,” added Cook, who was named CEO of Apple in 2011.

The technology will help children learn better in the 21st century, Cook said.

“Kids today, they're born in a digital world, but too many kids, when it comes time for the 8 o’clock bell to ring, go to an analog world,” he said. “It’s not engaging.”

The teachers are already noticing a difference.

“It means a lot to me, because you can do a lot at a faster rate,” one Tuskegee Public School teacher told Roberts. “It’s hands-on with everything in them … Last year we didn't have that. But this is day seven, eight, and we did a whole lot.”

When President Obama announced ConnectED in June 2013, many wondered how to make it work and how to judge its success.

“I think you look for a lot of things,” Cook said when asked how the program’s success would be measured. “You look for engagement and you look for how many kids move on to higher education then, so that education is something they desire.”

Roberts also asked Cook, 54, about when the country would see more diversity in Apple and in the wider technology industry.

“It's a really good question. There's not a simple answer,” Cook said. “One is, there has to be more role models. I think technology in general has not done a great job of establishing role models. I think technology in general has not done a great job of establishing role models, and so that's changing.

“That's critically important,” he said.

Diversity is important, Cook, said, because “inclusion and diversity inspires innovation. And so we actually make better products because we're more diverse.”

As for what the young students now using an iPad for the first time should do with the new-to-them technology, Cook had three words.

"Explore, discover, create,” he said.