Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Trump directs $200 million to tech education for women and minorities

Trump directs $200 million to tech education for women and minorities

Senior administration officials said they would leave crucial specifics — such as who will receive the federal funds — up to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
President Donald Trump on Monday directed at least $200 million a year to technology education grants for women and minorities.
The president signed a memo instructing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to prioritize STEM through existing competitive grant programs that will encourage women and minorities to participate in coding and other computer-based careers — though senior administration officials offered few specifics on how they would fulfill that goal.
"We need to create pathways for all our citizens to get jobs," Trump said at an Oval Office signing ceremony, surrounded by children. "When you get out of school, you're gonna get great jobs."
Senior administration officials said they would leave crucial specifics — such as who will receive the federal funds — up to DeVos. One official emphasized they would focus on programs that start children on this path at a young age.
The grants won't require congressional approval or new appropriations, White House officials said, because they will rely on existing Education Department funds.
The announcement comes amid a national discussion about gender equality in Silicon Valley, sparked by allegations of sexism at Uber, Google and other startups. Administration officials suggested the timing is not coincidental.
"Women are not equally participating in certain lucrative industries and fields, and we're looking to change the equation by designing these education programs to encourage gender and racial diversity," one senior official said. "It is clearly an enormous problem."
Trump seemed to say that the amount is still inadequate, telling the students that although $200 million might seem like "big bucks," it is actually "peanuts, peanuts."
First daughter Ivanka Trump will travel to Detroit on Tuesday, where leaders of several businesses — including Quicken Loans and General Motors — are expected to announce private investments aimed at the same goal.
"It is vital that our students become fluent in coding and computer science, with early exposure to both," Ivanka Trump said in a phone call with reporters prior to the signing ceremony.
The new grant program comes after Ivanka Trump reportedly sought input from Silicon Valley this summer on STEM instruction. She talked to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, who chairs the board of XQ: The Super School Project, an effort aimed at "rethinking" high school.
In July, the president announced that he was donating his salary for the second quarter of the year to the Department of Education. The $100,000 donation from Trump will be used to help fund a camp for students to explore science and math careers. But the announcement was met with anger by some education advocates, who found the charitable donation insulting while Trump was also seeking a $9 billion cut to the agency in his budget request.
DeVos and Ivanka Trump also teamed up in July for a STEM-focused reading event at the National Museum of American History. They took turns reading “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty to a group of D.C.-area girls with the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club. “You are the next generation,” Trump told the girls, encouraging them to grow up to be inventors, engineers and coders.
The STEM push from the White House is nothing new. It was a key priority for the Obama administration, with former President Barack Obama pledging in 2011 to preparing 100,000 new math and science teachers by 2021 and securing more than $1 billion in private investments to improve STEM education.
The Obama administration also focused on STEM in some of its signature competitive grant programs, like Race to the Top, which awarded states hundreds of millions of dollars for their efforts to turn around low-performing schools and improve STEM education.
Other grant programs housed under the Education Department have a STEM focus, like the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program, which has awarded colleges and universities hundreds of thousands of dollars to “increase the flow of underrepresented ethnic minorities, particularly minority women, into science and engineering careers.”

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