Policy makers, educators, and the private sector ask for federal investments in computer science education
An online petition urges Congress to provide $250 million to help schools and districts integrate computer science into the curriculum.
In a letter sent to Congress, the authors note that technology is quickly changing society, and “participating in this world requires access to computer science in our schools.”
They also state that more than 100 school districts are working to roll out computer science courses, and 20 states have passed policies around the subject and are in the process of identifying professional development for computer science teachers. But despite pockets of growth, three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer meaningful computer science courses.
Individuals and organizations supporting the petition also pledged $48 million in private contributions to further computer science education, including:
- Microsoft, Google, Infosys Foundation USA, BlackRock, AT&T, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Jeff Bezos, Omidyar Network, and others have collectively pledged $23M in contributions to Code.org
- $10 million from Google for new funding for computer science education efforts in 2017
- $10 million from Microsoft for broadening access to K-12 computer science education
The petition launched as Mississippi organized its own computer science education initiative, called Computer Science for Mississippi. The initiative is a product of a partnership between the Mississippi Department of Education and Mississippi State University.
This fall, 34 Mississippi public school districts will participate in the yearlong program, which aims to introduce students to computer science and introduce them to the skills needed to succeed in computer science careers.
The elementary-level curricula will include coding, digital literacy, keyboarding and robotics. In high schools, students will enroll in a comprehensive course covering both fundamental concepts and the “big ideas” of computing and coding. In the future, the pilot program will add computer science courses for sixth-eighth grades while also expanding high school offerings.
Earlier this year, computer science initiatives rolled out in Rhode Island and Florida, and Washington state has made headlines for its efforts to expand computer science education.