President Barack Obama said on Saturday [January 30] he will ask Congress for more than $4 billion of dollars to help K-12 students learn computer science skills, which in the end, will prepare them for jobs in a changing economy.
President Obama is calling this the “Computer Science for All Initiative.”
“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill. It’s a basic skill, right along with the three R’s,” Obama said in his weekly address.
He also mentioned only about one quarter of K-12 schools offer computer science instruction, and according to the White House, only 28 states allow courses to count towards high school graduation requirements. Yet, most parents want their children to develop analytical and coding skills, Obama said.
“Today’s auto mechanics aren’t just sliding under cars to change the oil. They’re working on machines that run on as many as 100 million lines of code,” Obama said.
“That’s 100 times more than the space shuttle. Nurses are analyzing data and managing electronic health records. Machinists are writing computer programs.”
The National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service this year will start spending $135m to train teachers over five years, according to The Guardian.
“Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that computer science (CS) is a ‘new basic’ skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith wrote on the White House blog.
Obama said he also wants governors, mayors, business leaders and tech entrepreneurs to become advocates for more widespread computer science education.
According to The Guardian, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, said computer science education is an “economic and social imperative for the next generation of American students.”
Smith, who spoke on a media call arranged by the White House, said that up to a million US technology jobs could be left unfilled by the end of the decade.
In comparison to countries as large as China and as small as Estonia — where computer science education are expanding rapidly, Smith said, the US are “moving, frankly, just more slowly than we need.”