President Obama announced an initiative he said will improve the education of African-American students during his remarks at the<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuLjdbptyT4&hd=1" target="_blank"> National Urban League Conference in New Orleans on July 25</a>. Obama’s executive order establishing the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/26/executive-order-white-house-initiative-educational-excellence-african-am" target="_blank">White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans</a> is set to level the academic playing field in primary and secondary education, making higher education a definite next step, rather than an inaccessible option, for today’s youth. The goal is to ensure that every African-American student can receive an education that adequately prepares him/her for high-school graduation, college completion and productive careers in a knowledge-based economy.<br><br>
With this initiative aimed at lowering the achievement gap between black students and their white counterparts, here are three reasons this initiative will benefit the future of science, technology, engineering and math education.–<a href="http://hajjflemings.com/" target="_blank"><em>Hajj Flemings</em></a>
<strong>Exposing Students to STEM Earlier </strong><br><br>
The lack of black people in technology stems from the lack of STEM education. While America doesn’t produce a great number of white scientists, mathematicians and engineers, the disparity hits African Americans a lot stronger. African Americans received just 7 % of all STEM bachelor's degrees, 4 % of master's degrees, and 2 % of PhDs in 2009, according to the <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/" target="_blank">National Center for Education Statistics</a>. Thankfully, several extra-curricular programs like <a href="http://www.blackgirlscode.com/" target="_blank">Black Girls Code</a> are dedicated to teaching children and young adults from underrepresented communities.<br><br>
With this initiative promising to focus on youth at the beginning of their educational careers, students will become exposed to all that STEM has to offer in the classroom.
<strong>Shift From Consumers to Producers</strong><br><br>
African Americans are the ultimate consumers of technology. <a href="http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/report-the-power-of-the-african-american-consumer/" target="_blank">According to Nielsen</a>, 33% of all African Americans own a smartphone; not to mention, a larger percentage of African Americans access the Internet from mobile devices. There were 23.9 million active African-American Internet users in July 2011—76% of whom frequented a social networking or blog site. However, when it comes to producing the technology we so often use, we make up a small portion of that manufacturing class. Obama’s initiative plans to give students the tools to create the next big tech innovation.
<strong>STEM Careers </strong><br><br>
Education is important for the jobs of the future so Obama’s election-year initiative will ensure the next generation of African Americans will be prepared. The president has already made STEM education a key priority with initiatives like Race to the Top and the “Educate to Innovate” campaign. <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/14/stem-jobs-help-america-win-future" target="_blank">With growth in STEM jobs three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years</a>, it’s an area of opportunity for future jobseekers. Throughout the next decade, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17%, compared to nearly 10-percent growth for other occupations.