Taking Action: State of the Union

By 2035, today’s preschoolers and kindergarteners will be entering the workforce.  The students of today are laying the core building blocks for the workforce of 2035. That is why I applaud the focus from President Obama’s State of the Union address last week focused on innovation, education and students.  

This triad is a critical and core focus for Microsoft, our partners and our customers. As President Obama explained, “In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business.” He went on to state that “over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education.  And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school.”

Here at Microsoft, we are taking the President’s call to action to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math seriously. There is a big opportunity across the country to drive excitement in the student community for these subjects and a dire need for great teachers to inspire them. As the workforce continues to evolve, the jobs students in school today will enter tomorrow and in the future, in many cases, will look vastly different than the workforce of today. So we need to help students build skills for the future that will constantly evolve and increasingly involve technology. This is true for teachers too.

But what does Innovation + Education look like?  And how can we amplify best practices that will help our students reach their full potential? 

While we certainly don’t have all of the answers, I believe it takes a broad community effort to prepare our students today for the jobs of tomorrow. I think Microsoft has two great programs that are helping students and educators  pave the way to a brighter future.  

Partners in Learning and the Innovative Education Forum: Registration is now open for educators to showcase and celebrate innovative teaching & learning practices.

As described in the State of the Union, President Obama emphasized, “We want to reward good teachers.” As I’ve blogged about before, we need to up-level the importance of the role of teachers in our society. Microsoft believes that a great education starts with great teachers. We work hard to help train, recognize and reward educators through our Partners in Learning program. One of the events we host each year is the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum.  This is an opportunity to recognize some of the top teachers and build a community of support for them to share their best practices and knowledge of preparing students for the future with their peers.

Regional events are happening around the world right now. The UK has already awarded their winners to compete at the next level. We invite educators to get involved with the program and register for this year’s Innovative Education Forum.

Imagine Cup: More than 50,000 students in the U.S. have already registered for the world’s premier technology competition.

During his speech, the President shared, “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.”  Microsoft created the Imagine Cup nine years ago with the idea that students can and will change the world. Through the competition, they are already solving some of the world’s toughest problems.  The Imagine Cup is the Olympics of technology and the solutions they create are extraordinary. This is one way that Microsoft is encouraging innovation in America and all over the globe.

Last year, more than 325,000 students worldwide registered to participate in the competition and engage in the dialogue of how students can change the world.  Their solutions turned a phone into a tool   to diagnose vascular disease, allowed visually impaired students to learn more effectively in the classroom and delivered vaccines more efficiently to patients.  This year, more than 50,000 students in the United States have already registered and we are seeing incredible solutions.  Students who are interested can still register and participate.

While for me and my work in education, the biggest take away from the State of the Union speech is that we need to do more to support our educators and our students...I hope the entire country and our citizens take it just as seriously. As we look to the future and the year 2035…Microsoft is committed to working with the broader education community to be part of the solution.