Facebook, Google Ask Congress to Make Computer Science a K-12 Priority

Josh WolfordTechnology

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Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more than a dozen other advocacy groups have sent a letter to the Chairman and ranking members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The letter asks that a new education bill puts more focus on computer science.

In fact, the companies want computer science added to the list of "core academic subjects".

"We know the definition of core academic subjects affects state and local decisions about how to allocate resources and the list of subjects shapes what is ultimately taught. This change simply puts computer science on a level playing field with other subjects. It will be up to state and local educators to then decide if they want to give students access to the subject that will offer them the most opportunities. There should be such a definition in ESEA and it must include 'computer science'," says the letter, mainly authored by nonprofit group Code.org.

The consortium also wants the allocation of resources toward the teaching of computer science.

"Code.org asks you to retain a provision in Title II-E of S 1177 that would provide each state with resources to focus on improving teaching and learning in STEM subjects, including computer science. This provision—added to the bill via a bipartisan amendment offered during Committee consideration—would support partnerships between schools, businesses, non-profits, and institutions of higher education that would implement a wide range of STEM-focused objectives including the recruitment, retention, and professional development of educators. Unlike current law, the revised program explicitly includes computer science and computer science educators. This change would support efforts to get more computer science in K-12 schools."

According to Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, computer science has been marginalized.

"Computer science drives job growth and innovation throughout our economy and society. Computing occupations make up two-thirds of all projected new jobs in STEM fields, making computer science one of the most in-demand college degrees. And computing is used all around us and in virtually every field. It’s foundational knowledge that all students need. Recent polling conducted by Google and Gallup show that nine out of ten parents want their children to learn computer science—but only one in four schools offers it. Computer science is marginalized throughout K-12 education. We need to improve access for all students, particularly groups who have traditionally been underrepresented."

The letter comes just days after Facebook launched TechPrep, an initiative that aims to help parents and guardians and learners explore programming, the jobs available to programmers and the skills required to become one.

Image via Thinkstock

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf