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Trump Signs Memorandum Boosting Computer Science Education

Ivanka was the driving force behind the initiative.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
3 OCT 2017
 

On Monday, President Trump signed a memorandum that boosts computer science and technology funding in the US by $200 million.

The grant program was initiated by his daughter Ivanka and is a direct attempt to improve access to computer science and coding classes in K-12 schools.

 

"In recent years, with growing technological advancement, the nature of our workforce has increasingly shifted to jobs requiring a different skill set," said Ivanka in a statement to reporters on Monday.  

"Given the growing role of technology in American industry, it is vital our students become fluent in coding and computer science, with early exposure to both," she added.

Despite the recent boom in computer technology, less than half of all U.S. high schools currently offer computer science classes. During the White House's tech week in June, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook urged Trump to create a coding requirement in all K-12 schools. A month later, Cook and several other business leaders, governors and non-profits gathered at the White House to put together a comprehensive program that would do just that.

In particular, Ivanka says the team worked hard to create an initiative "with gender and racial diversity in mind."

Software, computing and computer science fields are notorious for their underrepresentation of women, African Americans, and Hispanics. In particular, the Advanced Placement exam in Computer Science in high school has the worst gender diversity of any other course, with 78 percent participation by men and 22 percent by women. Meanwhile, participation by students of color is an abominable 13 percent. The makeup of these programs has long been criticized for not reflecting the diversity of the country at large, where these groups represent well over half of the entire U.S. population.

Ivanka assured reporters on Monday that the new policy aims to ensure "every student across the country, from our rural communities to our inner cities" has access to the tools and education necessary for our digital future.

According to a senior administration official, the funding for the program will come from grants and will not require legislation from Congress.

"It's minimum of $200 million," the official added. "It could, and most likely will, end up being more than that."

On Tuesday, Ivanka will visit Detroit with private sector officials to announce pledges to support computer science education.