Clinton's economic plan promises increased support for STEM education

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Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s economic plan promises to build on President Barack Obama’s STEM and Computer Science Education for All initiatives.

Recognizing the important role information technology plays in creating jobs and fueling innovation in America’s future, Clinton’s plans include proposed measures to increase the availability of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in all levels of education.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are fundamental to our future economic growth—not just in the information technology (IT) industry, but in energy, manufacturing, transportation, health, retail, services, and countless other sectors,” a Clinton position document stated.

This focus on education is aimed at preparing a wider pool of students and narrowing the shortfall of candidates needed to fill an estimated 1.4 million computer-science related jobs by 2020, the document noted.

“When our young people aren’t learning cutting-edge skills, this not only holds them back, but limits our collective potential as a nation,” the document added.

Clinton’s plan proposes to double federal “Investing in Innovation” grants and put aside 50 percent of the funding for scalable and successful computer science education models that improve student achievement and college enrollment. In order to create such programs, the plan includes engaging private businesses and nonprofits to train current teachers and adjust education of new teachers to prepare them to teach computer science. This would train 50,000 computer science teachers by 2026, another promise Clinton made in the document.

These partnerships would train educators as well as help refocus high school curriculums on STEM education and provide more class options such as Advanced Placement computer sciences and physics classes.

Clinton envisions this would also allow private business to communicate computer literacy needs to higher education institutions, making high schools and colleges more responsive to economic needs.

“Today’s economy requires more agile, adaptable, and technologically literate workers than ever before. In short, we need a lifelong learning system that is better tailored to the 21st century economy—one that enables ongoing skills building, emphasizes portable and performance-based credentials, and enables employers, job seekers, and education providers to be in constant communication,” Clinton’s position document stated.

This could change the certification process for programs and careers, including “accelerated learning programs for computer coding, career and technical training, certificates for “specializations,” and online learning.

Clinton’s plan sets aside another unspecified $10 billion in federal funding over an unspecified timeline.

The new education models would be paired with federal startup assistance, including student loan deferments for startup entrepreneurs and early joiners.

“Hillary will allow entrepreneurs to put their federal student loans into a special status while they get their new ventures off the ground. For millions of young Americans, this would mean deferment from having to make any payments on their student loans for up to three years—zero interest and zero principal—as they work through the critical start-up phase of new enterprises,” the document statedt read.

“Strong STEM programming in every public school is critical to our nation’s success, and to reducing economic and social inequality,” the factsheet read.

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