Washington — The White House says Ivanka Trump will be in Detroit on Tuesday, appearing with Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert to reveal a private-sector commitment aimed at promoting access to high-quality education programs on coding and computer science.
“Too many of our nation’s K-12 and post-secondary students lack access to high-quality STEM education, including computer science,” Trump said, according to a transcript of a call she held with reporters.
“Our goal is for every student across our country, from our rural communities to our inner cities, to have access to the education they need to thrive in our modern economy.”
The goal is to equip students with the skills they need to clinch one of the thousands of jobs available in the computing field that many employers are unable to fill, due to the lack of trained workers, she said.
The visit by the first daughter was planned to complement a presidential memorandum Monday signed Monday by her father, President Donald Trump, directing the Department of Education to invest a minimum $200 million in grant funding annually to expand high-quality science, technology, engineering and math as well as computer science education in schools.
Ivanka attended the Oval Office signing ceremony Monday, surrounded by 50 students in grades 3 to 8 representing local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA and Code4:Life.
“The workplace is changing,” the president said. “My administration will do everything possible to provide our children, especially kids in under-served areas, with access to high-quality education in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Trump interrupted his remarks to question the children about whether they were working hard in school, saying that although a $200 million-a-year grant program may seem like “big bucks,” it is actually “peanuts, peanuts,” according to a pool report.
Reed Cordish, assistant to the president, told reporters that the Obama administration recognized the need to advance STEM education, but he said many schools don’t offer courses in physics or computer programming.
A senior administration official said the administration will defer to local leadership to decide the best way to teach computer science and STEM, and to show the Education Department of Education which programs they want to expand. Officials said they hope to encourage the participation of young girls and minorities in particular.
Monday’s memorandum references the need to prioritize the recruitment and training of teachers, and urges Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to explore whether any administrative action could boost focus on computer science in K-12 and college education.
“As a country, we want to embrace innovation, but we need to prepare for it, and we need to be thoughtful about planning for the jobs of the future and what skill sets will be required to enable all young Americans to succeed in this modern economy,” Ivanka said.
“The reality of the modern workforce is that technology is innovating and disrupting every industry. So it is viewed by this administration as a foundational skill to understand computer science, to be able to have access to coding education, because this will prepare you for success across any industry, not squarely tech.”
In addition to Gilbert, Tuesday’s event will include Marillyn A. Hewson, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., Hadi Partovi of Code.org, as well as participation by the Internet Association, according to the White House. Other corporate endorsements of the initiative include General Motors Co. and Microsoft.