President Donald J. Trump’s daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Code.org founder Hadi Partovi came to Middleburg Community Charter School this morning to talk about the importance of coding and computer science education in schools.
“It is such an important, foundational skill for all of you to have, regardless of what you decide to do with your lives,” Trump told the students. “Technology is reinventing every industry.”
The visit comes two days after President Trump signed a memo instructing the Department of Education to spend $200 million every year “to the promotion of high-quality STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education, including computer science in particular,” but which does not come with any funding attached.
“So that is very supportive, and it shows that this administration prioritizes this education as we think about creating amazing pathways to jobs to everyone in this room,” Ivanka Trump told the assembled 10- and 11-year-olds.
Tuesday, Ivanka Trump and Partovi were in Detroit to announce $300 million in funding for computer science education pooled from nearly a dozen large companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and General Motors. In the Middleburg classroom, every student had been learning to code through Code.org’s Hour of Code event—putting them among more than 100 million students worldwide, according to Partovi, or about one in every 10 students on the planet.
“What that really means is, in most places that you go in the world, nine out of ten kids have not,” Smith said. “So you all have a head start, and I think that’s really exciting, because as Ivanka said, the future really is about boys and girls, it’s people of all backgrounds, people of every race.”
“Most of your parents didn’t get a chance to code or do computer science in school because computers were too new,” said Partovi, who was an early investor in tech companies like Facebook, Dropbox, airbnb, and Uber. “And what’s happening in America right now—and all around the globe—is schools are deciding, we need to teach computer science just like we teach math, or English, or science or other things.”
One enterprising student pulled Smith aside to give him her ideas for improving Minecraft—including creating different themes, such as under sea, in a forest, in the clouds, or in outer space, and other activities in the game like collecting coins in the game to spend on creations in-game.
“I liked all of them except when she suggested that maybe we should have one world where everybody lived in sewage,” Smith laughed. “I was like, ‘I don’t know about that one.’ The rest, you sort of had me at hello.”
As to whether those features could appear in the game: “You might be surprised. We’ll see. I mean we’re always taking in new ideas, and that’s one of the wonderful things about software—it can keep evolving, especially when you think about something like Minecraft.”
The school gathered for a group photo with Trump, Partovi and Smith before they left.
“We are fully committed to ensuring that every child across the country has the same access and same opportunity to STEM education that you’re so fortunate to get,” Trump said.