ACM Washington Update, Vol. 13.1 (February 2, 2009)

By David Bruggeman
February 2, 2009


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] Economic Stimulus to include Science and Technology
[3] Net Neutrality Connected to Broadband Stimulus
[4] ACM Urges Obama to Include Computer Science As A Core Component of Science and Math Education
[5] Obama Will Make Broadband Part of Economic Recovery
[6] Study Shows Rising Elementary Math Scores and Significant Challenges
[7] House Homeland Security Committee Looks to 2009
[8] CSTA and ACM release report on the lack in Teacher Education in Computer Science
[9] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available at]


The new Congress and the new Administration have settled in and focused all their attention on economic recovery legislation, which is dominating activities in Washington D.C. There are more details on each item below, as well as on our weblog at

* The House of Representatives passed its version of the economic stimulus and recovery package with billions of new funding dedicated to key science and technology programs.

* Stimulus package includes funds for broadband deployment linked with Net Neutrality.

* ACM releases a policy brief urging Obama to include computer science as a core component of science and math education at the K-12 level.

* President Obama will make broadband a priority in his stimulus and economic recovery plan.

* The National Center For Education Statistics released a new math and science study showing a rise in elementary math scores and significant challenges.

* House Homeland Security Committee held a daylong briefing looking at privacy and security issues for 2009.

* A report by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) addresses the crisis in state computer science teacher certifications/preparation and its negative effects on the computing and tech fields.


With the stimulus package in the works, the House Appropriations Committee has released a summary of its major components. Scientific research is one of the major components. Some of the scientific research funding will go to, but is not limited to: the National Science Foundation ($3 billion), National Institutes of Health ($2 billion for research, $1.5 billion for facilities), the National Institute of Standards and Technology ($400 million), and the Department of Energy Office of Science ($1.9 billion).

More details can be read from the committee summary at:

A table outlining some of the changes can be found here:


The call for the 111th Congress to make our nation’s digital infrastructure a high priority has taken effect. The economic stimulus package includes funds for broadband deployment, with the catch of network neutrality.

The funding will be focused in areas of the country with little or no Internet infrastructure. The current legislation, HR 598, states that any networks built with these funds should operate on an “open access” basis. Congress has yet to define what “open access” means and has put it on the Federal Communications Commission to do so prior to 45 days of enactment.


Following the announcement of the nomination of Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education, ACM’s Education Policy Committee released a policy brief to Obama regarding computer science education. The brief addresses current issues and provides several recommendations to strengthen computer science education at the K-12 level. Some of the key recommendations include: being a central part of any STEM education initiative, focusing on middle school curriculums, and expanding efforts to increase the number of females and underrepresented minorities in the field.

More details on ACM’s recommendations and the full brief can be read at:

Some trade press coverage on the nomination can be read at:


A top priority in the new administration is to revive the struggling economy. President Obama outlined parts of his economic recovery plan in which he plans to invest significant funds in infrastructure, including broadband. Obama wants to connect libraries and schools to the Internet in efforts to strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world. In addition he wants to ensure that hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet to modernize our healthcare system. The inclusion of hospitals in the broadband deployment means that issues of health information technology will eventually need to be addressed. So far reaction to the inclusion of broadband in the economic recovery plan has been well received.

The address can be read and/or watched at:


The National Center for Education Statistics recently released the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The study assesses math and science at the 4th and 8th grade levels. Previous TIMSS have been very influential in U.S. education policy debates, having impacted the No Child Left Behind Act and the America COMPETES Act.

A few key points for mathematics from the study are that worldwide 4th grade students improved in their math scores from 2003-2007, while U.S. students continued to measure behind eight other countries. 8th grade students in the U.S. showed no significant score changes since 2003, and remain behind five other countries internationally. In both 4th and 8th grade levels the “achievement gap” between different sub-populations of students changed with everyone doing generally better.

For science, U.S. students’ average scores at both 4th and 8th grade levels showed no statistically significant change since 2003 and they remain behind four and eight other countries, respectively.

The full report can be found at:


A workshop was hosted by the majority staff of the House Homeland Security Committee on “Constitutional Protections in Homeland Security”. A large range of topics were covered, including data mining, information sharing, transportation, border crossing, communications during natural disasters and cyber security.

At this time of transition to a new Secretary of Homeland Security (Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has taken over), now is an excellent time to reassess the progress the Department has made since it was formed five years ago. Two main criticisms are that the homeland security programs are mainly reactive or are entirely ignored, and that the programs do not communicate what they do very well. Many hope that increased oversight of the Department could allow some problems to be fixed as well as improve the Department’s ability to protect the nation.

The agenda of the workshop can be found on the Committee’s schedule page:


The continual concern of the lack of students entering the computer science and computing field is rooted from the poor foundation K-12 students receive in science and math. A recent report released by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) addresses this crisis of the lack in computer science teacher education.

The report addresses three key topics: computer science education is critical, the current teacher certification system is broken, and recommendations for a multi-level model to meet diverse needs. The report pinpoints problems in the current system as a lack of clarity, understanding, and consistency of current requirements; and the disconnect of requirements to computer science content.

Ultimately, all computer science teachers, new and old, should have adequate preparation to teach successfully. In order to achieve this, the report recommends a model program that has the following components: academic requirements in the field of computer science and education, preparation in methodology, field experience, and an assessment to document proficiency in general pedagogy. The diverse model is broken down by the potential background of the teacher, for example, new teacher or veteran teacher with no computer science experience, etc.

More details can be read from the full report:


USACM is the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). With over 88,000 members, ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

USACM acts as the focal point for ACM’s interaction with the U.S. Congress and government organizations. It seeks to educate and assist policy-makers on legislative and regulatory matters of concern to the computing community.

For more information about USACM and ACM, see:


For earlier editions of the ACM Washington Update, see:


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