Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is of the utmost importance to all students and is critical to U.S. competitiveness, said President Obama at an April 20 town hall event held on Facebook’s Palo Alto, Calif. campus.
“My name is Barack Obama, and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie,” Obama said as he introduced himself. He referred to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, who is known for his casual workplace attire.
Obama was the first sitting head of state to visit Facebook’s brick-and-mortar home and the latest big-name visitor to the tech-savvy region in Northern California that gave rise to social media and the personal computer.
Questions came from pre-screened online submissions or hand-picked Facebook employees, and ranged in topic from the national debt and immigration to education and health care.
“It used to be that the argument around education always revolved around the left saying we just need more money, and the right saying we should just blow up the system because public schools aren’t doing a good job,” Obama said, as the conversation turned to education. “And what you’re now seeing is people recognizing we need both money and reform. It’s not an either-or proposition; it’s a both-and proposition.”
Emphasizing STEM education—especially to girls and minority students–is one of the most important efforts the U.S. can make if it hopes to produce college- and career-ready students, Obama said.