Computer Science Education Act Introduced in Both Houses

Yesterday, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) and Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado) introduced legislation to strengthen computer science education in the United States. Called the Computer Science Education Act (CSEA), the bill focuses on K-12 education. Here’s a summary of the key objectives of the bill, taken from the ACM press release:

  • Fund planning grants for states to work with stakeholders to assess their computer science offerings in K-12 and develop concrete steps to strengthen them
  • Fund implementation grants for states, in partnership with local school districts and institutions of higher education, to carry out state plans by: developing state computer science standards, curriculum, and assessments; improving access to underserved populations; building professional development and teacher certification programs; creating on-line courses; and, ensuring computer science offerings are an integral part of the curriculum
  • Establish a blue-ribbon commission to review the state of computer science education nationwide, and bring states together to address the computer science teacher certification crisis
  • Establish computer science teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education
  • Create an independent, rigorous evaluation of state programs funded under this Act with results reported to Congress and the Administration

One of the intended purposes for this legislation is to help stop the slide in participation in computer science courses at the K-12 level. As ACM CEO John White notes, both the number of introductory computer science courses and the participants in computing Advanced Placement exams have dropped significantly since 2005. Certainly other things will have to happen to help reverse this trend, but passing the CSEA would make it easier, and demonstrate Congressional support for keeping Americans engaged with an important field for the future.

ACM Education Policy Chair Testifies to Congress on IT Research and Development

Dr. Robert Schnabel, Dean of the School of Informatics at the University of Indiana and Chair of ACM’s Education Policy Committee, testified before the House Research and Science Education Subcommittee on Thursday. The hearing focused on the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program (NITRD), a U.S. government program that coordinates the various federal efforts in research and development in computer science. You can watch the hearing and read witness testimony via the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s website. We also have Dr. Schnabel’s testimony on our website.

Consistent with the focus of ACM’s Education Policy Committee on K-12 computer science education, Schnabel’s testimony emphasized the need to boost that area of education to improve the future of hiring in the field. From the ACM press release:

“If we fail to address the issues facing K-12 computer science education, students will have little exposure or familiarity with this critical discipline or its concepts before beginning higher education. As a result, the IT workforce will continue to lack the capacity needed to meet the nation’s growing IT needs,” he said. “NITRD and the National Coordinating Office (NCO) can play a key role in addressing the obstacles impeding K-12 computer science education. As the committee works to reauthorize NITRD, we encourage it to help our nation address this problem.”

The other witnesses included computer scientists Ed Lazowska from the University of Washington, Robert Sproull, recently retired head of Oracle Labs, and George Strawn, Director of the NITRD Coordination Office. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee developed legislation for NITRD in the previous Congress, and may do again in this Congress. Whether it will get further than the House floor is an open question.

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of September 19

September 21


The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on Cloud Computing.
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program. ACM Education Policy Committee Chair Bobby Schnabel of Indiana University will testify.
2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of Google.
2 p.m., 226 Dirksen Building

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation will revise and approve pending legislation, including a data security bill.
2:30 p.m., 253 Russell Building

September 22

The Senate Judiciary Committee will markup pending legislation, continuing the work on data security bills started last week.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building

Deconstruct the iPad with the Task Force on American Innovation

Those in the Washington, D.C. area next Wednesday, September 21, may want to attend a Congressional briefing hosted by the Task Force on American Innovation (ACM and USACM have participated in Task Force efforts in the past). The briefing is also hosted by Representatives Hultgren (Illinois), McCaul (Texas), and Quayle (Arizona).

Titled Deconstructing the iPad, the event is a panel discussion highlighting how federally funded research supports technological innovations. The speakers are:

Luis von Ahn, Carnegie Mellon University; founder of ReCAPTCHA

Guest Speakers
Martin Izzard, Texas Instruments
William Phillips, Nobel Laureate; National Institute of Standards and Technology; University of Maryland
Benjamin Bederson, University of Maryland; Zumobi, Inc.

The briefing will take place on Wednesday, September 21, in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Please RSVP to Jodi Lieberman at

Hill Tech Happenings, Week of September 12

September 14

Hearing: The Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on cybercrime and the financial sector.
10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn Building

September 15

The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the U.S. impacts of European Internet privacy regulations.
9:30 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Building

The Senate Judiciary Committee will review pending legislation and nominations, including bills involving data security.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building