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High hopes but few details for Trump’s $200 million STEM pledge

By in Press Enterprise on November 2, 2017

By EdSource

By CAROLYN JONES, EdSource

The White House’s pledge to spend $200 million on science, math and computer education could potentially transform U.S. classrooms, but educators are waiting to celebrate until they know how the money will be spent.

“I think it’s positive that the White House is talking about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, but we just need to see more details,” said Vincent Stewart, executive director of the California STEM Network at Children Now, a nonprofit that advocates on children’s health, education and policy. “Until we see where that money is going, it’s too difficult to say what the impact will be.”

President Trump in September issued a presidential memo directing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to devote at least $200 million annually to STEM grants, with an emphasis on computer science and programs that benefit underrepresented minorities. Private companies pledged to add another $300 million to the coffers, but it has not been announced how or when that money will be allocated.

The public can comment on the Department of Education’s grant priorities here. The deadline is Nov. 13. Afterwards, the Department is expected to announce the grants process. The Department of Education did not respond to emails from EdSource.

The $200 million is not new funding, so does not hinge on Congressional approval. The money would come from the Department of Education’s existing grants budget. But it does not specify where the funds would be found, and what other programs would have to be cut, if any, to come up with the funds.

The directive does apply to the current fiscal year, which means money could start reaching local schools, districts and nonprofits within the next 12 months, according to an analysis by Code.org, a nonprofit that advocates for computer science education.

Scott Roark, spokesman for the California Department of Education, said […]    

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