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President Trump Signs Presidential Memo to Increase Access to STEM and Computer Science Education

4 minute read

President Donald Trump today signed a Presidential Memorandum on Increasing Access to High-Quality Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education, affirming his Administration’s strong commitment to enabling and encouraging students across the country to engage in high-quality STEM education, including computer science.

This Presidential Memorandum (PM) directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to make promoting high-quality STEM and computer science education one of the Department of Education’s top priorities, and beginning in fiscal year 2018, to take this priority into account when awarding competitive grant funds. Specifically, the PM sets a goal of devoting at least $200 million per year within the Department of Education toward advancing this effort. This action helps American students without incurring new government spending, and instead utilizes existing funds appropriated by Congress.

Along with establishing a path for targeted funding, the President stressed to the Department of Education the importance of tracking the outcomes and progress of programs funded under this directive. While different programs will have their own appropriate metrics of success, grant recipients should demonstrate an ability and commitment to creating real change, with measurable results.

Despite overwhelming evidence that coding skills and STEM literacy will be critical to achieving high-paying jobs of the future, too few schools across the country are able to provide students with high-quality education and training in STEM and computer science. Fewer than half of America’s high schools offer computer programming instruction. Women, minorities, and students in rural communities often have even lower participation in STEM education, and will benefit from the efforts that this PM sets into motion.

Throughout 2017, the Trump Administration has been actively promoting STEM careers and computer science education. Some highlights include:

  • Department of Energy’s 27th National Science Bowl On May 1, 2017, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Michael Kratsios, awarded top prizes at the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual National Science Bowl competition to students from Lexington High School in Lexington, MA, and Joaquin Miller Middle School in San Jose, CA.
  • The 46th Annual United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) One June 5, 2017, Deputy U.S. CTO Kratsios celebrated the success of the USAMO winners and encouraged all participants to continue building a strong foundation of mathematical skills during a special dinner at the U.S. Department of State.
  • Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America On June 15, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order designed to reduce Americans’ student debt burden while developing the right technical skills for the jobs of tomorrow through innovative apprenticeship and job training programs.
  • FIRST Global Challenge Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump celebrated women in STEM with the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics Olympics for high school students. Ms. Trump opened the second day of events on July 17, 2017, and met with the competition’s six all female teams participating in the event – teams from the United States, Ghana, Afghanistan, Jordan, Vanuatu, and Brunei.
  • Smithsonian Museum’s SparkLab Summer Reading Event On July 25, 2017, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos encouraged young girls to get excited about STEM through a summer reading initiative, featuring the book “Rosie Revere Engineer,” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
  • The 2017 Great American Eclipse, STEM in 30 Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump stopped by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on August 21, 2017, to celebrate the one of the decade’s great astronomical events – a total eclipse of the sun which traveled across the continental United States. While there, Beth Wilson, the host of the Smithsonian’s “STEM in 30” television program, interviewed her about the impact that large scale science events students can experience firsthand can have on burgeoning STEM careers.

This effort is about providing students pathways to jobs. And allowing a new generation of students the opportunity to thrive in STEM education and computer science will also help ensure the United States remains a global leader in innovation. The Trump Administration looks forward to continuing to help Americans from all walks of life to prepare for the jobs of the future through STEM education.