White House Releases Five-Year STEM Education Plan

The government's education report focuses on partnerships and literacy, but no cost was included.

The Trump Administration revealed its five-year strategic plan for STEM education: Charting a Course for Success: A Federal Strategy for STEM Education.

The plan stresses the need for “ecosystems” that unite communities toward a common goal and recommends four pathways to success: Develop and enrich strategic partnerships, engage students where disciplines converge, build computational literacy, and operate with transparency and accountability.

The plan also calls for more inclusive STEM programs and utilizing partnerships between schools, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to leverage resources and expertise and get children connected to real-life STEM experience earlier.

The report was based on input from educators, business and community leaders, and representatives from all 50 states who attended a June federal STEM Summit at the White House.

It discusses many ways that the federal government should partner with and support educators by providing resources and opportunities. But according to U.S. News and World Report, one challenge in fulfilling the mission of the report is a lack of K–12 STEM teachers.

One of the initiative's goals is to “build strong foundations for STEM literacy.” Here it specifically discussed the way educators could implement the plan.

“Educators at all levels could increasingly augment hands-on instruction with online content and virtual experience, bringing the world to the classroom,” it reads. “Curriculum developers and teacher preparation professionals could work to accelerate the use of digital learning tools and their integration into curricula, informed by research on best practices.

“Private and public sector employers, through work-based learning partnerships, could provide the most authentic lessons in digital ethics, online information analysis, and cyber safety. Elected officials along with community nonprofits and professional organizations are well positioned to heighten the urgency of this priority among constituencies and members.”

There was no mention in the report of how much money would be needed to implement any or all of the recommendations.

Not everyone is thrilled with the emphasis being placed on these partnerships, even alliances with with nonprofits, and large digital platforms. In a recent incident, it was the students who objected. In November, nearly 100 students walked out of classes at the Secondary School for Journalism in Brooklyn, NY, protesting the Summit Learning web-based curriculum designed by Facebook engineers and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a nonprofit started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The students said that the "personalized learning" platform was not teaching them effectively and they were concerned about the privacy of their data.




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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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