Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff are teaming up for a new project that could change America as we know it.
Alongside the CEOs of Deere & Co, DuPont, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Disney, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Walmart, and Target, 28 governors from both side of the aisle, and education leaders, they are petitioning Congress to invest in K-12 computer science education for every student in the country. The petition has been signed by more than 20,000 people in the 24 hours since it was launched.
“The breadth of support shows that computer science isn’t just a tech problem anymore, it’s an America problem,” Code.org founder Hadi Partovi told Tech Crunch. “And it’s not just a Democrat issue, it’s the most bipartisan issue in the U.S.”
Three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer meaningful computer science courses, despite advances in computer technology impacting every industry in the country, states the petition, which was organized by the Computer Science Education Coalition in partnership with Code.org.
To show the gap between supply and demand, there are more than 500,000 open computing jobs every year, but only 50,000 computer science graduates to fill them.
“How is this acceptable? America leads the world in technology. We invented the personal computer, the Internet, e-commerce, social networking, and the smartphone,” writes the group in the petition. “This is our chance to position the next generation to participate in the new American Dream.”
To date, computer science education has existed as an elective in most schools; there for the students who have in interest. But education in computer science can be beneficial for students who have no intention of becoming engineers or developers too.
“I’m a perfect example of someone who is not an engineer, but my path was greatly improved by understanding how software is growing, how it works, how it is transforming the world and what are the kinds of things I could do with my life and career,” Reid Hoffman, Chairman of Linkedin, told the Washington Post.
So far, computer science education has been addressed on a local or state level; twenty states have passed computer science policies and more than 100 school districts are rolling out courses.
But federal funding for computer science education is “virtually non-existent.” This petition is asking for the funding to see that every child has access and contends that it can be done without growing the federal budget.
Not only have leaders supporting the petition asked Congress to contribute, but also many have made private donations to the cause. Yesterday those who signed the petition donated $48 million to computer science education, with $23 million going to Code.org, according to the Washington Post.
“For Code.org the funding means doubling down on our momentum,” Partovi told Tech Crunch. “We’ve brought computer science to 10% of all classrooms in America, but there’s a long way to go. We’ll use the money to train over 25,000 public school teachers to introduce computer science to students who would otherwise never have this opportunity.”
In addition to their signatures and donations, tech leaders have also been raising awareness for the cause via social media:
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