Obama's STEM Education Initiative: "Computer Science for All"

Obama's STEM Education Initiative: "Computer Science for All"

Obama's STEM Education Initiative: "Computer Science for All"

     Education is always a hot topic in US politics; parents and educators alike are passionate about bills and laws passed about education because we want whats best for the next generation. The most pressing topic in this generation of young people’s education is likely computer science education, but as of now, only 15% of schools offering AP courses offered an AP computer science class. President Obama noticed this deficit, and on January 30th of 2016, he pledged to fund computer science programs across the nation with a budget of four billion dollars. He officially announced his Computer Science for All initiative directly after the 2016 State of the Union Address, clearly demonstrating how important computer science education is to the nation as a whole.

     The basics of coding and computer science are essential skills that 21st century students need to be exposed to. Mark Zuckerberg commented on this, saying, “in fifteen years we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing… and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.” Steve Jobs chimed in on the conversation, saying, “everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think.” Technology surrounds us in everyday life, and will only become more prevalent in the job market as well. Whitehouse.gov states, “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.” Our ubiquitous use of technology as a society along with these statistics demonstrates the need for computer science to be a priority for education curriculums.

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     According to this initiative, in the next three years, participating states will formulate minimum five-year plans detailing how they will further computer science education with given budgets. Federal funding, philanthropy, and private funding and support from companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and even Cartoon Network.There is even a hashtag on twitter used to support the program, #CSforAll. Students and educators alike are encouraged to participate and get excited about computer science education.

     While the percentages rise every year, women and minorities are still least likely to pursue education and careers in computer science. Computer Science for All will encourage all students, including these minorities, to pursue STEM fields. Introducing students to computer science from a young age will give them all the confidence and interest to pursue these topics in higher education, no matter their gender, race, or background.

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     Another exciting initiative that goes hand-in-hand with the Computer Science for All Initiative is the K-12 Computer Science Framework. Developed by organizations such as the National Math + Science Initiative and the Computer Science Teachers Association, and supported by big names such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft, the K-12 Computer Science Framework provides standards for computer science education across the country for all students, from kindergarteners to seniors in high school. It is a framework rather than a strict set of standards, meaning it focuses on teaching concepts, practices, and useful skills rather than focusing on whether or not students pass strict standardized tests after each grade level. Introduced in 2016, states are presently working out how to implement this revolutionary framework.

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     Since January 2016, measurable steps to promote computer science education have been taken by a dozen states directly due to this initiative, and many other states have computer science education on their agendas.  New York has made plans to take full advantage of the Computer Science for All Initiative. Their goal is that every public school will have a computer science program by the year 2025. While this is an ambitious goal, these passionate educators realize how essential is it to teach every student the basics of computer science. Their efforts include training over 5,000 teachers by 2025.

     Parents want kids to learn computer science, kids want to learn computer science, and teachers want to teach computer science, so it is fitting that we are finally taking steps to give the training, funding, and standardization of computer science education for everyone. Check out the link below to a factsheet, issued by the White House, to see the detailed changes and innovations the Computer Science for All Initiative will have on the US in the years to come. Students, you don’t have to wait for your school to adopt the Computer Science for All Initiative; if you are interested in computer science or programming, start learning today!

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/csforall-fact-sheet-9-13-16-long.pdf