Investment in K-12 computer science education is essential to ensuring our future workforce is equipped with the skills needed to fill critical U.S. jobs and keep America competitive for decades to come.
While there are over 500,000 computing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., only 42,969 computer science students graduated from U.S. universities into the workforce last year. If steps are not taken to close this skills gap, it’ll only grow. Between 2016 and 2020, the US projects there will be 960,000 job openings and if current graduation patterns continue, only 344,000 graduates to fill them.
The Computer Science Education Coalition is urging Congress to provide $250 million in funding for K-12 computer science education this year. It is estimated that an initial infusion of $250 million in federal funds could support as many as 52,500 classrooms, which has the potential to reach 3.6 million students across the U.S. in the coming year.
The bi-partisan passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act by Congress at the end of last year gave state and local school districts more flexibility to fund computer science through a new block grant, but didn’t provide a dedicated funding stream for this critical subject. While this is a step forward, a federally focused and funded strategy is necessary to amplify and accelerate the exemplary work already being undertaken in states across the country.
Parents and teachers want computer science in K-12 classrooms. A Google-Gallup survey found that 9 out of 10 parents say they want computer science taught in their schools, and the majority of parents and teachers believe it should be required learning for 21st century students.
Exposure to computer science at a young age has the potential to address the diversity gap in computer science fields. Girls who take AP computer science in high school are 10 ten times more likely to major in computer science in college. African-American and Latino students who take this course in high school are over seven times more likely to major in this field.