America’s top CEOs, state governors, and education leaders joined forces this morning to ask Congress to support computer science in K-12 schools. In an open letter, the leaders called on Congress to increase support for local school districts and jurisdictions for K-12 computer science education. There is also a Change.org petition, so the public can weigh in with their support. This letter is an effort that has been led by the Computer Science Education Coalition, which we wrote about when it launched in March, and Code.org.
In the letter, the signatories identify many of the compelling reasons that more support is needed. It also includes an announcement of $48 million in new commitments by the letter’s signers, which will be added to the contributions of other “private donors (who) have collectively committed tens of millions of dollars to solving this problem.” This money will go to boosting computer science education nationwide.
The list of signers is itself quite impressive. Over half (27) the nation’s governors, both Democrats and Republicans, have signed on. As well, a diverse collection of CEOs, from Microsoft to Walmart to DuPont, have lent their support, signaling how important this issue is, not just to the high tech sector but to the modern economy as a whole. Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, makes this point well: “It used to be that computer science and technology were about tech companies in California…at this point, there’s not a single industry or a single state you can look at where the field and the market isn’t being changed by technology.” There are also a wide cross-section of the nation’s K-12 educators, from the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education to Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and computer science education leaders, such as the CEO of NCWIT and the President & CEO of NAACP. This is a bipartisan and cross-cutting issue.
This is an unprecedented letter and effort, which is becoming a recurring theme for CS education this year. When President Obama announced his CS for All initiative in January, the CS community was given a great opportunity to step up, and we accepted the challenge. Though we are still under a difficult Federal budget environment, which is not favorable for new programs, hopefully this letter will move the needle in Congress. At the very least, it’s an excellent arrow for the CS community to have in its quiver.