Trump Suddenly Wants Us to Believe He Cares About Computer Science
On Monday, Trump
signed a memorandum
to ramp up education initiatives in
There is a long list of examples marking Trump's lack of support for science and technology, both inside and outside the scope of education. At best, these areas aren't a priority so much as an afterthought. Trump's proposed 2018 budget, for instance, calls for the total elimination of the NASA Education Office and contains an 11% cut to the National Science Foundation (NSF) . The NSF manages research funding for social and behavioral sciences, computer science, and geosciences. Yet these cuts are largely unsurprising, as the topic of STEM was all but ignored by Trump during his presidential campaign.
Trump created the White House Office of American Innovation to streamline sluggish government processes with modern technology, but then he put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge. Kushner, along with his wife Ivanka, are both grossly unqualified for the positions they have been given-rather than appoint experts into positions responsible for these innovation efforts, Trump's choices signal that he favors nepotism over aptitude.
And Trump has yet to fully employ the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)-the remaining three members
left at the end of June
, leaving a whopping zero staff members in the office dedicated to issues including STEM education and biotechnology. After their departure, there were only 35 people staffed across the four divisions of the office. An OSTP official
this month that the office currently employs 42 members, compared to 130 during Obama's seat in office.
"One thing that OSTP has traditionally been helpful in is identifying gaps and needs that exist, communicating those gaps and needs to the science and technology community beyond the federal government, and calling that community to action in creating these solutions," Cristin Dorgelo, the OSTP chief of staff under Obama, told Wired. "That role, without a strong OSTP, is not being led, as far as I can tell."
Of course there are self-serving motivations here-tax reforms and visa policies, which in part fall under the power of Trump, both greatly impact Silicon Valley's bottom lines. Furthermore, Trump is
for Silicon Valley to recruit talent abroad for US jobs, which in turn makes STEM education initiatives in the US increasingly relevant to these companies' wallets.
At face value, Trump's STEM initiative may leave a positive impact on US schools-it affords kids access to programs that would greatly benefit them in the current job economy. But stacked against all of the efforts to strip the nation of science and technology efforts, there's no reason to believe the administration has suddenly undergone a significant change of heart. Trump has rarely held a policy position without changing it. What's more, a generation equipped with the knowledge that a STEM-based education affords them directly contradicts the White House's own war on science.