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President Trump prioritizes computer science for 'jobs of the future'

President Trump speaks at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017.
President Trump speaks at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Monday directed his education secretary to prioritize science and technology education and spend at least $200 million annually on competitive grants so schools can broaden access to computer science education in particular.

During an Oval Office appearance, where he was surrounded by students from local schools, Trump said more than half of U.S. high schools don't teach computer programming and that nearly 40 percent don't offer physics.

He said more widespread access to such instruction will help students develop the skills they need to compete and win in tomorrow's workforce.

"Better STEM education also means higher paying jobs for American workers and families. You get out of school, you get really great jobs, high-paying jobs. We're doing very well with the employment rolls today. You'll get really good jobs. And we want our amazing young Americans to fill these jobs, earn a great living, lift up their communities and achieve their American dreams," Trump told the students.

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior White House adviser on the workforce issues, told reporters during a telephone briefing earlier Monday that it is vital that students, especially girls and racial minorities, learn how to write computer code and study computer science.

She said exposure in grades K-12 is vital.

"Today represents a giant leap forward as we think about aligning the skills that are taught in the classroom with the skills that are in demand in the modern economy," Ivanka Trump said in the Oval Office before the president signed a directive instructing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to act.

Money for the grants has been appropriated by Congress, officials said. Trump's order asks DeVos to prioritize high-quality STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - education along with computer science education under an existing grant program that schools and districts have access to.

Ivanka Trump said she would visit Detroit on Tuesday with private sector officials as they announce pledges in support of computer science education.

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