The Education Department is turning a blind eye to STEM education and has not prioritized it at all, according to a report published on Wednesday by the advocacy group Education Week.
“The Education Department, under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has shown a total indifference to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math],” said Education Week President Lorna J. Jones.
“Instead of making STEM the priority, it is just giving a blank check to employers to hire people who will work for free.”
Education Secretary DeVos, who is now in her final year of office, announced a plan in September to increase the number of STEM teachers in the public school system by 2,000.
The plan is a significant step in the right direction, according the report, which said the government is now “furthering its effort to diversify the education system” through hiring more teachers from the sciences and humanities, which are traditionally more diverse.
Education Week also said the Department of Labor is reviewing whether to allow women to work in STEM occupations, which have been traditionally male dominated.
It said the department has been averse to using the term “science” for many years, instead opting for “science and technology,” a term that includes technology and engineering.
“We believe the term STEM needs to be changed to ‘science and engineering’ to make it more inclusive, and to include women and people of color,” Jones said.
“Our report shows that this is the right thing to do.”
The report came as the Trump administration is considering expanding the Department for the Arts and Sciences, which provides arts education, to include science and engineering courses.
“STEM is still not the top priority for the Education Department,” the Education Week report said.
A senior administration official told The Washington Post in a statement that “STEM education is now a top priority.”
“The Department for Arts and Science is committed to making STEM education a priority for all students,” the official said.
But the official did not provide any further details.
“I don’t think the Education Secretary is making the right decisions,” Jones told The Post.
“She’s doing what’s best for her department.
I think it’s not fair to people in the STEM field to say she’s not doing anything about it.”
The Education Secretary was one of the main supporters of President Donald Trump’s controversial Muslim ban, which temporarily banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The White House has since reversed its position and has instead said that the ban was meant to protect American interests.
The Education Dept is now looking into adding more STEM instructors to the STEM curriculum.
“At a time when so many Americans are asking what the Department should be doing, we have an obligation to reflect that our priorities have been shifted to the arts,” a senior administration administration official said in a news release.
“It’s critical that we have a more diverse workforce, and that we invest in STEM education so that every American can achieve his or her full potential.”