Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new initiative to promote the creation and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones across the United States. Currently, more than 70% of Opportunity Zones do not have a public charter school option available to students.
The funds, to be sent to 41 school districts, nonprofit organizations, and state education agencies across the United States, are part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made the announcement on Sept. 27.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants to put a priority on competitive grants that square with the Trump administration's initiative to improve economic opportunities in distressed areas. In the Federal Register, which is where the U.S. government publishes agency rules and public notices, DeVos' proposed priority is to "align the Department of Education's ... discretionary grant investments with the Administration's Opportunity Zones initiative, which aims to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities."
The Department of Education has announced that $279 million in discretionary grants to support the sciences have been awarded to organizations nationwide in 2018, surpassing the $200 million minimum in science, technology, engineering and math investment mandated by President Trump last year.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reiterated her long-standing call for educators to “rethink” school on Monday at the State Education Technology Directors Association conference, where she highlighted an award-winning elementary school technology program from St. Albans, Vermont, alongside her remarks.
The US consistently underperforms on international academic benchmarks compared to other developed countries—a reality that education secretary Betsy DeVos seems intent on changing. DeVos is on a 10-day, multi-stop visit to Europe to learn about apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, and the European K-12 education system.
The Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education is taking public comments on her proposed priorities for $700 million in discretionary grants the agency will issue annually in the coming years. Although many of the priorities focus on Betsy DeVos' flagship interest, school choice, the promotion of STEM education -- and particularly computer science -- also makes an appearance in the list.
The memo instructs U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to direct competitive grant money to STEM focused programs, with the goal of $200 million a year for five years. A number of prominent companies in tech and other industries said they will make contributions over the next five years, though some offered few specifics on on the nature of those gifts.