By: Pat Muth
On September 25, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a Memorandum to fix a problem that has lingered in our workforce and educational system for more than a quarter of a century. We don’t have enough workers with STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to fit those jobs, nor do we have enough STEM teachers to prepare the next generation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 million American jobs are unfilled. Yet, 37% of the American workforce is not working. Many of these unemployed workers do not have the STEM skills required.
This past June, President Trump’s Apprentice Executive Order dealt with our current unskilled labor force. His current memorandum deals with future generations of workers, which will make it unnecessary in the future to bring in 65,000 foreign H1b workers each year to fill “highly skilled” STEM jobs.
A new $200 million grant program will be established by the Presidential Memorandum. It directs Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to develop a way to not only find STEM teachers, but to increase STEM training in our K-12 and post-secondary schools, where it is lacking. Within 30 days of Congress’ approval of funds, Secretary DeVos will outline how this will be done.
I’ve been aware of this problem for a long time, since I was once the spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools. But the stats below for K-12 and post-secondary schools really shocked me Computer programming is NOT taught in 60% of our high schools.
- Physics is NOT taught in about 40% of our high schools.
- In 2015, 17,000 high schools were accredited to give the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam. But only 18% were accredited to teach the class. Is that not ass-backwards?
- Computer Science classes are only offered to 1/3 of African American students, and 1/3 rural students.
- The AP Computer Science exam was taken by 1/4 of high school girls in 2016.
Thank God, we have a president who is willing to address this problem. It’s about time!
And while we are at it, may I suggest, it is time for K-12 and post-secondary schools to strengthen American history and civics courses. It should be mandatory for our students to pass the same test given to those who are about to become new citizens, before they are awarded a high school diploma.
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