President Barack Obama intends to make computer science more accessible in schools around the United States.
Today he unveiled the CS for all (Computer Science for All) initiative with a goal to to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school so as to be equipped with the skills necessary to be creators in the digital economy and also to be active citizens in technology driven environments. This initiative was made after the US President highlighted the need for an improved computer science education in his 2016 State of the Union address.
In the coming years, we should build on the increase of high school graduation rates and boosted graduates in fields like engineering by offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.
President Obama for a while now has launched several programs to promote technology and innovation. He created the White House Science Fair, started the Educate to Innovate initiative, signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act , became the first sitting president to learn how to code, and also hosted the inaugural White House Demo Day, Geeky President right?
Under the president’s plan to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities for the nation’s students, $4 billion will be provided in funding to states and $10 million to districts as part of the upcoming budget proposal. This will be used to fund training teachers, expanding access to resources, establishing partnerships and training material.
Also starting this year the President’s initiative also calls for $135 million in Computer Science funding to become available from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National And Community Service (CNCS). Though before it goes into effect, the Republican-led congress has to approve Barack Obama’s 2017 budget.
This initiative will also motivate leaders at all levels to participate in the initiative such as including governors, mayors, and education leaders to help boost CS following the leadership of states like Delaware, Hawaii, Washington, Arkansas, along with more than 30 school districts that have already begun to expand CS opportunities. Also CEO’s, philanthropists, creative media, technology, and education professionals will be engaged to deepen their CS commitments.
A significant part of the strategy to expand the pool of qualified applicants is to work harder to reach students who have historically lacked access to computers and computer training. The $100 million for districts will come in the form of competitive grants that reward ambitious efforts to expand computer science education in ways that reach as many students as possible, with the ultimate hope of finding a template that could work nationwide. The most successful efforts may serve as a model for a program to be rolled out nationwide
Why Computer Science for all?
According to the White House “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. They said. 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”. they also stated; “The federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 professionals to help manage its IT infrastructure and cybersecurity. Providing access to computer science is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity”.
President Obama’s latest initiative has also gained the attention of great media and tech companies, companies like; Apple, Cartoon Network, Code.org, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and Qualcomm are all working towards investing in programs to help improve computer science in the country.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by 2020, more computer science related jobs (about 1 million) will be available with less qualified graduating students filling up for them, that been said only 28 states allow computer science courses to count towards high school graduation, while many districts still find it difficult to make the computer science a priority. In the US just one-fourth of K-12 schools includes coding in their computer science programs. This initiative will combat problems like these.