Burgum, Baesler applaud Presidential Memo aimed at expanding access to STEM education

Monday, September 25, 2017 - 5:30pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler today applauded a Presidential Memorandum aimed at expanding access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and recognizing the important role it plays in developing a new generation of citizens contributing to the American economy.

Today’s memo, which builds upon an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in June, recognizes the need to provide improved, more relevant education in U.S. schools.

Specifically, the memo directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to:

  • Empower high-quality STEM education, with a particular focus on computer science, as one of the Department of Education’s priorities.
  • Establish a goal of devoting at least $200 million per year in grant funds towards this priority.
  • Explore administrative actions that will add or increase focus on computer science in existing K-12 and post-secondary programs.

“We’re grateful to the administration for placing such strong emphasis on STEM education, which dovetails with our own efforts to promote innovative, project-based, experiential learning opportunities that better prepare students for lifelong learning in the 21st century economy,” Burgum said.

Baesler said North Dakota schools have long understood the importance of instruction in computer science and writing computer coding language in every area of 21st century business.

“We appreciate federal support for the advancement of these initiatives as states lead the way in offering more access to STEM and computer science education,” Baesler said. “North Dakota has recently made changes to our own state’s laws to increase access to STEM education and make it easier for students to take computer science instruction. This federal action will continue this momentum, and open doors for many students.”

Earlier this month, Burgum announced the formation of an Innovative Education Task Force that will be made up of education, youth development, business and community leaders. The task force will be charged with creating a system to identify and support schools and districts implementing innovative practices, and with providing direction on how state government can empower districts to adopt student-centric learning practices designed to support a 21st century economy impacted by rapid technological change. The task force was originally announced in June at the Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education.

Individuals interested in serving on the Task Force should submit an application through the Boards section on www.governor.nd.gov by Oct. 4. Under “Navigation,” select “Application Form for Boards and Commissions,” and select “Innovative Education Task Force” in the drop-down list in the application form.