President Trump will sign a presidential memorandum this afternoon that commits the administration to expanding access to STEM and computer science education, senior White House officials tell Fast Company. As part of that initiative, the administration will devote at least $200 million per year in grant funding to this priority, as well as other actions to increase the focus on computer science in K-12 and post-secondary programs. To emphasize the need for such an initiative, the White House cited statistics showing that less than half of high schools currently offer computer programming and that nearly 40% of high schools did not offer physics in 2015.
And Ivanka Trump is heading to Detroit on Tuesday to join tech executives in announcing some private-sector participation from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Quicken Loans, and GM in the initiative. The effort represents a rare victory for the tech sector with this administration–prioritizing coding in public school curricula has long been a focus for Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft president Brad Smith, among others–amid Silicon Valley’s public criticism of the Trump’s administration’s recent move to end the DACA program, the travel ban, and the president’s statements on the Charlottesville violence.
In a statement released today, Smith said:
“Our country is facing a challenge that it hasn’t had to address in two generations: reworking the education system to keep pace with advancing technology. In the 1950s, the race to space drove schools to start teaching physics. Today, it’s all about computer science. Microsoft looks forward to partnering with other companies, non-profit groups, and the federal and state governments to help bring computer science into America’s mainstream education curriculum. It’s good for our country, our businesses, and most importantly, our nation’s young people.”