The Trump White House has outlined its five-year vision for making the nation a global leader in STEM education in a new report formally released Tuesday.
The report calls for developing partnerships between schools and local business to bolster work-based learning, helping students learn science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, concepts through project-based learning or by solving real-world problems, and boosting digital literacy.
But the document does not say how much—if any—new money the White House is seeking for the plan.
STEM learning needs to start early on in a student’s educational career, the report says.
“Basic STEM concepts are best learned at an early age—in elementary and secondary school—because they are the essential prerequisites to career technical training, to advanced college-level and graduate study, and to increasing one’s technical skills in the workplace. Increasing the overall digital literacy of Americans and enhancing the STEM workforce will necessarily involve the entire U.S. STEM enterprise,” the report said.
And the report notes that while STEM jobs are growing at a faster pace than those in other fields, many groups are disproportionately underrepresented in those occupations, including racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities.
The report broadly calls for steps like expanding STEM internships; supporting the recruitment, retention, and preparation of STEM educators; helping with research and the disseminating best practices for effective teaching of computer science and computational thinking; and identifying and sharing high-quality STEM curriculum materials. It also calls for supporting distance learning to help rural students gain access to STEM courses.
And the report is particularly interested in computer science education. “All Americans need access to educational technology, to computer science, to computational thinking, to the jobs that await, and to a foundational understanding of the role and use of technology,” it says.
The Trump administration has a mixed track record on seeking new funding for STEM and career education. In its first budget request, the administration sought to cut the $1.1. billion Career and Technical Education program by $166 million. But since then, it has signed off on small increases.
The administration also sought to make the $120 million Education Innovation and Research grant program, which is intended to help test out and scale up promising practices at the state and district levels, entirely STEM-focused. Congress rejected that ask, but said that it would like to see about half the funding directed to STEM-related projects.
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