Obama spent a considerable amount of time preaching to the choir at today’s Facebook Town Hall event, first bringing up Intel founder and Hungarian immigrant Andy Grove as an example of the kind of immigrant the US should be focused on retaining, in a response to a question about Immigration Reform and the Dream Act Education.
“We’ve got ambitious people from all around the world, that come here because they have a new idea … If we’ve got smart people who want to come here and start businesses, who’ve got PhDs in math and science and computer science. Why wouldn’t we want them to stay? … These are job generators,” the President said.
Then in response to a later question about Education reform, Obama said he was inspired by how many smart people were here in Silicon Valley and referred to the ongoing Silicon Valley talent crunch as reason for cultivating the technological talent we’ve got at home, “I always hear stories about how we can’t find engineers, and that’s why we’re emphasizing Math and Science … We want to start making Science cool. I want people to feel about the next big energy breakthrough and the next big Internet breakthrough the same way they felt about the moonwalk.”
Sitting here at Facebook Headquarters watching the President of the United States address constituents via Facebook, and have those constituents provide commentary via Twitter, the utter sanity of this statement struck me. Why aren’t Internet achievements treated as miraculously as Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong’s lunar footsteps on July 20, 1969?
“That’s one small tweet for a man, one giant status update for mankind …”
Well how do we start? The president emphasized that Education reform, which he is pursuing in one way through the Zuckerberg-approved “Race to the Top” initiative, needs to emphasize STEM fundamentals, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for females and minorities. “There’s got to be a shift in American culture when we realize this stuff is important,” he said.
He continued, “We’ve got to lift our game up when it comes to science, math and technology. That’s hopefully greatest legacy I can have as President of the United States.”
The president peppered his talks with zingers about how wealthier people like Zuckerberg should have to pay more taxes, but as Semil Shah points out, at a $70B valuation, Zuck’s approximately 24% Facebook stake puts him at less $16.8 billion, making roughly 9,880 times more than the $1.7 million the Obamas raked in last year.
In a time of rampant unemployment and $14 trillion in National Debt, if that’s not a big argument for teaching kids how to code, I don’t know what is.