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.