What Obama's $4B Computer Science Initiative Means for K–12 Schools
President Barack Obama has laid out his vision for enhancing computer science education in K–12 schools, and it starts with $4 billion in federal funding.
The White House announced the Computer Science for All initiative in a blog post, building on a series of actions that have been bolstering computer science education in public schools nationwide — including Obama’s becoming the first president to write a line of code.
In his 2016 State of the Union address, the president broached the subject, saying that public schools should offer "every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job ready on day one." In December, Congress passed new bipartisan education legislation, which Obama then signed into law. The legislation, dubbed the Every Student Act (ESSA), sets new guidelines for school districts and redefines the core subjects to include computer science.
The president's Computer Science for All initiative calls for $4 billion from the federal budget to go to states and $100 million to schools, to ensure that K–12 teachers have access to computer science training and materials. It will also expand access to computer science curriculum supported by the National Science Foundation.
Two of the country's largest school districts have been busy incorporating computer science into their curricula.
In September the New York City Department of Education unveiled a 10-year plan, also titled the Computer Science for All program, to make computer science education available to the 1.1 million students in all of its public schools. The plan will cost about $81 million, some of which will go toward training about 5,000 teachers. And in 2013, Chicago Public Schools announced it would become the first urban school district to offer computer science courses from kindergarten through eighth grade.
With the first round of funding for Obama’s Computer Science for All program set to be released this year, it won’t be long before many more districts take an active role in furthering computer science education.