Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is teaching his own kids how to code

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on February 25, 2014

From The News Desk

Ashton Kutcher's doing it.'s doing it. Chris Bosh's doing it. Britain's doing it. And now, US Secretary of State Arne Duncan and his kids are doing it.

Everyone's learning to code!

As Pando has previously reported, billionaire backers are funding a huge non-profit effort -- -- to get programming taught in schools. But, while this organization is painstakingly chipping away at state policies, in some cases district by district, it turns out the Educator in Chief was already on board.

Arne Duncan said as much during an edtech privacy summit today where he announced federal guidelines on how to treat educational data collected from students (more on that tomorrow). As he explored the pros and cons of technology in the classroom (pro: empowers teachers, con: invasion of privacy), he let a personal detail slip.

This is something we think about a lot at home, with our 12-year old daughter and 10-year old son. Ours is not a low-tech home, although my kids, correctly, claim they have a pretty low-tech dad since they have to share my iPad, and because my wife and I limit their non-educational screen time. We've been learning to code together, though they are ahead of me.
Arne Duncan is teaching his kids to code and trying to learn himself in the process. Given the Secretary of Education helps set federal policies and programs for the nation's primary, secondary, and postsecondary schools, this isn't a trivial point.

Duncan thinks programming is important enough that even with all his government duties he's still making time to work on that skill set with his family. Does that mean we're going to see the feds mandate programming in all schools? No. But it does provide a window into what key education officials are placing on the skill.

Barack Obama came out and said "Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future," as part of Computer Science Education Week. So, the President's behind it, the Secretary of Education is behind it, has millionaires behind it. What's next?

Unfortunately, curriculum is determined on a state-by-state level, so even if the President and Secretary of Education are all in favor of coding classes, that doesn't mean the United States can mandate them for all schools the way the U.K. just did.

We'll have to wait for's snail-like progress across the country. At the last count, the organization has convinced four districts to offer coding in schools.

Four out of...roughly 12,229.

[image via thinkstock]