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Obsessed with NFL, media missed crucial White House STEM initiative


ICYMI is a popular Internet acronym that stands for “In Case You Missed It” and I am sure given the media’s 24/7 obsession with President Trump’s opinion on disrespecting the American flag or our National Anthem at sporting events, there were several “ICYMI” opportunities from the White House this past week.

{mosads}The White House announced an important new initiative that I am sure you might have missed. Last Monday, in the Oval Office, along with a diverse group of dozens school children President Trump issued and signed a memorandum to the Department of Education focusing on “Increasing Access to High-Quality Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education.”  

Some might assume this is just another roll back of an Obama era policy that the current administration disagrees with but that is not the case. This, memorandum is highlights the priorities of the new Computer Science Initiative.

The Presidential Memorandum directs Sec. Betsy DeVos to invest a minimum of $200 million of already appropriated dollars of grant funding each year to expand high quality STEM and Computer Science education in our schools. This bold action actually goes a step further in the right direction.

Understanding and valuing racial and gender diversity the President acknowledges that “Nationwide, only 34 percent of African American students and 30 percent of rural high school students have access to a Computer Science class. Furthermore, even where classes are offered, there is a serious gender gap: less than a quarter of the students who took the AP-CS A exam nationally in 2016 were girls.”

Advisor to the president, and first daughter, Ivanka Trump is spearheading the effort to narrow the skills and achievement gap in our country by focusing on what the federal government can do, in conjunction with the private sector, to emphasize STEM and computer science education with a particular focus on minorities, and girls.  

To that end, members of the Internet Association have committed $300 million to this Computer Science Initiative. Some of the biggest names in business are supporting President Trump on this because Amazon, Facebook, Lockheed Martin, Accenture, Microsoft, Accenture and more all understand this is not a partisan political issue, this is an American priority. Coding is becoming the language of the world and if young American students are not taught how to speak it, they will be left out of being able to compete in the workforce of tomorrow.

Gone are the days where a four-year degree meant job security for 30 years with the ability to retire with a robust retirement, pension and social security benefit to live off of. That is just not our reality.

Student loan debt is in the country is at an all time high, at well over $1trillion dollars, for some, college has become an unattainable dream. Focusing on computer science and awakening the entrepreneurial spirit, which is at is core what the American dream is all about, is how we help the next generation be competitive, move into and out of the middle class and secure high-paying jobs to create legacy wealth for their families.

Black and Hispanic women are the fastest growing sector in the U.S. for entrepreneurs. We need to start early in our investment in our educational system, teaching coding and the computer science with the focus on those groups that show the most interest and promise.

The recent Google/Gallup study that looked into computer science made a clear case for why the Trump administration wants the Department of Education to prioritize programs targeting for rural, inner city, low-income schools as well as minorities and girls.  With over 6 million unfilled jobs in our country we should want our government to make initiatives like this a reality.

While government can’t singlehandedly create 6 million jobs with one memo or Executive Order, the Trump administration can create the atmosphere for access, aspiration and opportunity. Access to computer science jobs can only happen when our children are taught how to code.

So here is your ICYMI about something our children, our schools, our parents and our country can not afford to miss: The president’s new computer science Initiative.

President Trump is calling on all of us to stand up for our children, stand up for our future and stand up for America. We can’t afford for this skills, wage and achievement gap to just be the norm.

Last week was a busy week filled with headlines, mainly about athletes. Hopefully, this week the headlines will be more focused on our children, and what the Trump administration is really doing to Make America Great Again, especially for them.

Paris Dennard (@PARISDENNARD) is a communications strategist and GOP political commentator who has worked in the George W. Bush White House, the RNC, and most recently works on behalf of the nation’s public HBCUs.  

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