President Obama’s bold new initiative to empower a generation of American students with the computer science skills they need to thrive in a digital economy.
BY MEGAN SMITH
The White House, January 30, 2016 — Computer Science for All is the President’s bold new initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world.
Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that computer science (CS) is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility.
An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest
CS for All builds on efforts already being led by parents, teachers, school districts, states, and private sector leaders from across the country.
The President’s initiative calls for:
– $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for school districts in his forthcoming Budget to expand K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships.
– $135 million in Computer Science funding to become available starting this year from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National And Community Service (CNCS).
– Expanding access to prior NSF supported programs and professional learning communities through their CS10k Initiative that led to the creation of more inclusive and accessible CS curriculum including Exploring CS and Advanced Placement (AP) CS Principles among others.
– Involving even more governors, mayors, and education leaders to help boost CS following the leadership of states like Delaware, Hawaii, Washington, Arkansas, and more than 30 school districts that have already begun to expand CS opportunities.
– Engaging CEOs, philanthropists, creative media, technology, and education professionals to deepen their CS commitments. More than 50 organizations are making commitments, learn more and get involved and make a commitment here.
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The Need for CS For All
Last year, there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States that were unfilled, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields. Computer science and data science are not only important for the tech sector, but for so many industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services.
Parents increasingly recognize this need — more than nine of 10 parents surveyed say they want computer science taught at their child’s school. However, by some estimates, just one quarter of all the K-12 schools in the United States offer high-quality computer science with programming and coding and 22 states still do not allow it to count towards high school graduation, even as other advanced economies are making it available for all students.
Wide disparities exist even for those who do have access to these courses. In addition to course access challenge, media portrayals, classroom curriculum materials, unconscious bias and widely-held stereotypes exacerbate the problem and discourage many of our students from taking these courses. For example, in 2015, only 22 percent of students taking the AP Computer Science exam were girls, and only 13 percent were African-American or Latino students. These statistics mirror the current makeup of some of America’s largest and more innovative tech firms in which women compose less than one-third of their technical employees, and African-Americans less than 3 percent. We can do better!
Tech careers are exciting, fun, high-impact, and collaborative as well as being critical for our economy. We want all Americans to have the opportunity to be part of these teams. CS For All will help make that a reality and ensure every student has access to Computer Science in their classrooms at all levels.
For more information about CS For Students, CS For Educators, CS For Communities and Policy Makers, and more visit Computer Science For All at whitehouse.gov.