On Tuesday, America’s leading CEOs, governors, and educators came together to press Congress to fund computer science education for every school in the country.
An open letter to Congress was signed by an unprecedented collection of leaders, including CEOs of Apple, Facebook, AT&T, Target, 21st Century Fox, and American Airlines, as well as a bipartisan group of 27 governors.
The letter makes the case for computer science education in every school, and accessible to every child. “90% of parents want their children to have access to computer science education,” the letter states, “and despite this groundswell, three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer meaningful computer science courses.”
The letter also emphasizes the bipartisan nature of the issue. In a direct appeal to both sides of the aisle, it calls for an increase in computer science funding without growing the federal budget.
Mark Zuckerberg further explained his motivation on Facebook, writing: “Right now, there are 500,000 computing jobs open in America alone, but we produce only 50,000 computer science graduates every year. That makes no sense. When I was growing up, a lot of people thought coding was something only nerds like me did. But today it’s clear that coding is a basic skill and is something everyone should be able to do, like reading. It’s something every school should teach.”
The open letter accompanies a petition to the US Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the announcement of a new wave of $48 million in private-sector funding for initiatives aimed at increasing computer science access.
What’s next for the effort to bring computer science to classrooms?
Yesterday’s announcement brings much-needed attention to the problems of STEM education in the US. There are many challenges involved, including how to craft policy, allocate funds, and train and support teachers.
The good news is that we’re not the first to do it. US educators and policymakers can learn a great deal from local and international efforts, including England, which recently required computing education for kids from ages 5-16. While the initiative is an enormous challenge for teachers in England, the experience there is encouraging.
Online education platforms in particular have been essential. From introducing kids to computing, to providing training resources to teachers, online education has proven to be key to bringing computer science education in every classroom.
With bipartisan support and improved education technology, computer science in every classroom is achievable in the United States, as well.
To read the letter, sign the petition, and see the full list of signatories, head over to change.org.