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STEM Education Gets a Presidential Push with Trump Approving a $200 Million Education Initiative

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is getting a major boost from the Trump administration with the president announcing a pledge to invest $200 million annually into various K-12 programs.

The president’s daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump has been a proponent for increasing STEM programs and headed to Detroit earlier this week to join various tech executives from Facebook, Google, and Amazon in launching the initiative.

"Less than half of American schools have even a single computer science course," Ivanka Trump said at a press conference. "We have to do better. We’re going to do better."

White House statistics cited the dire need for funding STEM education with only half of American high schools offering computer science classes and almost 40% of high schools neglecting physics classes. “[T]oo many of our Nation's K-12 and post-secondary students lack access to high-quality STEM education, and thus are at risk of being shut out from some of the most attractive job options in the growing United States economy,” read a statement on the White House’s website.

Microsoft president Brad Smith, who has been a critic of the Trump administration in the past, praised the move calling it “good for our country, our businesses, and most importantly, our nation’s young people.”

A massive $300 million investment from the private sector, parceled out over five years, is part of a component to the government’s $200 million commitment and the corporate contributions break down like this: Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, and Facebook ($50 million each); Lockheed Martin ($25 million); and Accenture, Pluralsight, and General Motors ($10 million each). Quicken Loans is financially ensuring that 15,000 public school children in Detroit get computer science training.

A focus of the panel and press conference in Detroit was directed at the need to usher more women and minorities into STEM fields. The number of women in the computer science field has declined over the past 26 years from 35.3% in 1990 to 22.2% in 2016. Ivanka Trump stressed the importance of continued efforts in furthering the STEM educational opportunities for women saying, “it is vital our students become fluent in coding and computer science, with early exposure to both.”

The news comes several months after Trump’s first actions as president in promoting STEM education. In February, President Trump signed into law the Inspire Women Act, compelling NASA to support mentoring programs for young women in STEM.

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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