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How Will Donald Trump Impact STEM Education?

How Will Donald Trump Impact STEM Education?

Improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning in America’s K-12 schools has been a national focus for some time now because of Barack Obama’s commitment to supporting STEM education throughout his two terms as president. 

Such initiatives include establishing the first-ever White House Science Fair, the Computer Science for All campaign, and supporting efforts to train 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021.

These initiatives tackle issues that have been defined as barriers to effectively teaching STEM to America’s students, such as a lack of resources for teaching computer science and a general lack of trained specialized teachers to teach most STEM subjects including but not limited to computer science.

The big question in STEM this week is: Will Donald Trump keep the ball rolling on these STEM initiatives when he enters the White House?

It’s hard to tell, because Trump has spoken very little about education in general during his campaigning and has on only a few occasions made mention of how committed he is to improving STEM education.

Fortunately, The Scientific American asked Donald Trump’s campaign several questions about how he views science, and one of those questions touched specifically on science education in schools. The question reads:

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?

Trump’s campaign responded and gave all indication that Trump will not be following in Obama’s footsteps and implementing federal STEM initiatives.

"Our top-down-one-size-fits-all approach to education is failing and is actually damaging educational outcomes for our children,” Trump’s campaign said.

"If we are serious about changing the direction of our educational standing, we must change our educational models and allow the greatest possible number of options for educating our children. The management of our public education institutions should be done at the state and local level, not at the Department of Education.”

While federal STEM initiatives seem unlikely, one thing Trump is very likely to do is affect how climate change science is taught in schools. Trump has made it clear that he falls in the camp of skeptics who believe more research needs to be done before climate change can viewed as fact.

"There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of 'climate change,'" Trump's campaign said to the Scientific American.

This has angered many educators who cite 99 percent of the scientific community standing behind the fact that climate change is happening and who want to make sure they have the resources and support to teach their students the right thing.

"It is more than possible that the sweeping Republican triumph at the national level may embolden local efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution and climate change. These are worrying signs for science education,” writes National Center for Science Education (NCSE) Executive Director Ann Reid.

To find out where Donald Trump stands on other education issues, see here.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor 

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