President’s Budget Initiative Seeks $4 Billion for K-12 Computer Science
On Saturday, President Obama announced a $4 billion plan to increase the number of computer science courses in K-12 public schools. The program “Computer Science for All” will be part of Obama’s 2017 budget to be officially revealed on February 9th and eventually voted on by the republican majority congress. If approved, the three-year plan will fund classroom equipment, courses and teacher training, and will promote access for minorities and girls in tech courses according to the initiative fact sheet.
During his weekly address, Obama highlighted the ongoing digitization of service and worker jobs like nurses, mechanics, and machinists. Today, data or code analysis is now a basic skill for a growing number of positions, he said.
“Now we have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future—which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy.”
The fact sheet also highlighted the racial and gender disparity in tech courses and industry. “In the fewer than 15 percent of all high schools that offered any Advanced Placement (AP) CS courses in 2015, only 22 percent of those who took the exam were girls, and only 13 percent were African-American or Latino students,” officials wrote.
Obama also spoke on the lack of “required” computer science courses. Although nine out of ten parents want computer science courses in their children’s schools, only a quarter of K-12 schools offer them, and 22 states don’t require it for a graduation diploma, Obama said.
States looking for computer science funding will have to complete a five-year plan to be approved according to the stipulations of the new program. Obama also called on governors, mayors, edtech specialists, and professionals to join the initiative.
Nate Leese is an Emerson College senior journalism student focusing on long term photography projects and visual media. Growing up a third culture kid he enjoys learning about relationships between cultures during times of change.