Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and others urge Congress to fund K-12 computer science education

Some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have teamed up with governors and educators to ask Congress to provide $250 million in federal funding to school districts in order to give every single K-12 student in the nation an opportunity to learn how to code. On the legislative side, these tech CEOs are joined by governors from both sides, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R).

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for more than $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million for districts in order to bring computer science curricula to every single K-12 student in the country. What this group of CEOs, governors and educators is asking for today is different. They’re saying that this issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget.

“The breadth of support shows that computer science isn’t just a tech problem anymore, it’s an America problem,” Code.org founder Hadi Partovi told me in an email. “And it’s not just a Democrat issue, it’s the most bipartisan issue in the U.S.”

That seems to be true. Of the 28 governors who signed the petition, 14 are Republican and 14 are Democrats. Partovi also said that it’s “quite unique to have all the ‘royalty’ in tech joined by CEOs of Deere & Co, DuPont, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Disney, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Walmart, Target, etc. That’s never happened before.”

In the meantime, Microsoft, Google, Zuckerberg, Bezos and others have collectively committed $48 million to the cause, with $23 million of it going to Code.org.

“For Code.org the funding means doubling down on our momentum,” Partovi said. “We’ve brought computer science to 10% of all classrooms in America, but there’s a long way to go. We’ll use the money to train over 25,000 public school teachers to introduce computer science to students who would otherwise never have this opportunity.”

Anyone interested in supporting the petition, which is organized by the Computer Science Education Coalition and Code.org, can add their name to it on Change.org. At the time of publication, the petition had 1,405 supporters.