Computer science education will get financial support from the Department of Education in grant funding through an initiative announced by President Trump.
Trump released a memorandum in which he directs Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary, to spend $200 million in grant funding every year to promote “high-quality STEM education, including computer science in particular.” He has directed the Education Department to center its focus on grant applications related to computer science, specifically those for girls and students of color, who are often under served by current computer science education programs.
President Trump’s daughter Ivanka reportedly advised her father concerning this computer initiative and will work with the Education Department to implement it. She promotes teaching computer science beginning in kindergarten, stating “The pathway to well-paying jobs and rewarding careers begins well before college or trade school.” Ms. Trump is concerned that “less than half of American schools have even a single computer science course,” and pledges that “we’re going to do better.”
Companies Pledge $300 Million
In partnership with Trump’s administration, many private companies have pledged their financial support for computer science education.
Contributors include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, and Microsoft, technology companies which hope to have the U.S. keep pace with other nations which excel in computer education. Others corporations donating money are General Motors, Quicken Loans, Lockheed Martin, Accenture, and Pluralsight. Marilyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin, joined Ivanka Trump and others in a panel discussion on the importance of computer science education. “There’s a million lines of code that has to be built,” she reported, for the Orion spacecraft NASA is building. “And it takes computer scientists to do it. When the first American steps on the red dust of Mars, it’s going to be because of computer scientists.”
Video Game Industry Supports Initiative
The Entertainment Software Association issued a statement in support of the Trump initiative. “ESA commends the Trump Administration on its bold leadership in computer science education,” said Michael Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association. “The White House’s new STEM initiative will help grow the diverse and high-skilled workforce that drives the $30.4 billion U.S. video game industry.” He reports that new computer science opportunities for America’s students will lead to new American jobs and “achieve new levels of innovation, invention, and economic success.”
Girls Who Code Founder Won’t Participate
Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, has decided not to participate in the Trump initiative. As the leader of the organization which gives free coding classes to female students, Saujani reported she was prepared to participate in the computer science initiative, but changed her mind when Trump, three days after announcing the initiative, signed an executive order known as the “Muslim travel ban.” She said that she could not work with the Trump administration because many of the young girls her organization supports are immigrants and include Syrian refugees. “I do not believe this initiative — nor any partnership with this White House — can reverse the harm this administration has already done in attempting to legitimize intolerance,” Saujani explained.
While it remains unclear exactly how the combined federal and corporate funds, totaling $500 million, will be allocated, Ivanka Trump reports the goal is to have the money directed to “all schools” in an effort to bridge the gap in STEM and computer science education. She has called state governors and school superintendents to encourage them to apply for the grant funding.