House Passes Education Bill with Computer Science Amendment

On Friday the House passed HR 5, the Student Success Act, by a vote of 221-207.  The bill would rewrite many of the provisions of the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and include provisions helpful to computer science education and educators. These provisions were put in place because of an amendment filed by Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO).

One new program under the bill would be called, “Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness” and would give grants to states, who could then make sub-grants to local education agencies (LEAs) to invest in teachers. LEAs would be allowed to use the money for professional development that is subject-based, and the Brooks/Polis amendment changed the bill to clarify that LEAs could invest in “teachers of computer science and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.” Additionally, HR 5 creates a new program that invests in state-level activities for “Innovative Teacher and School Leader Activities”. The Brooks/Polis amendment clarifies that the support for recruiting mid-career professionals into teaching explicitly includes computer science professionals. It does the same for any local efforts to recruit mid-career professionals into the classroom.

This is a big step for computer science in k-12 education, and advocates are pleased that this is moving forward with bipartisan support. Practically, however, the Senate still needs to pass its own version, so we will wait and see whether these changes will stay in place in the finalized bill. Advocates are also still pursuing a separate strategy regarding the Computer Science Education Act (CSEA), which amends the definition of core academic subjects to add computer science, defines computer science explicitly and makes a modest change to professional development provisions to clarify that Computer Science educators should be supported.

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