President Barack Obama has called for more than $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million specifically for districts in order make sure every K-12 student has access to computer science curriculum. President Obama is calling this the “Computer Science for All Initiative.”
“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,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith wrote on the White House blog.
Right now, only 25% of the K-12 schools in the U.S. offer computer science with programming and coding, and only 28 states allow those courses to count towards high school graduation requirements, according to the White House.
The money would give states and districts the resources to train new and existing teachers to teach computer science, and build out the curriculum to ensure that it’s top-notch.
In addition to the funding for states and districts, Obama’s proposed initiative calls for $135 million to become available from the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Before any of this goes into effect, the Republican-led Congress first has to approve Obama’s 2017 budget. That said, the initiative already has support from tech companies like Google, Salesforce and Microsoft, as well as from cities across the U.S.
Over in Oakland-Calif., for example, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the Oakland Unified School District, Congressperson Barbara Lee, and tech companies Uber and Twilio, announced a series of commitment in coordination with the recent announcement from the White House. One commitment is to ensure that all PK-12 students in the Oakland Unified School District will have access to computer science education in school by 2020.
“Oakland has become a major center of innovation,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “Increasingly, the tech industry has seen the value in the vibrant, diverse and progressive community that Oakland has cultivated and they want to be part of it. What we need to ensure now is that our residents, particularly our young people, are ready to step into their rightful place in the tech sector that drives our global economy. That’s why equitable access to training and opportunities is so critical.”