Zuckerberg, Bezos, Google, Microsoft join big push for funding coding in K-12 classrooms

Tech and other business leaders as well as dozens of governors have written to Congress asking to expand computer education in K-12 classrooms:

Our schools should give all students the opportunity to understand how this technology works, to learn how to be creators, coders, and makers — not just consumers. Instead, what is increasingly a basic skill is only available to the lucky few, leaving most students behind, particularly students of color and girls.

The letter, made public Tuesday, was part of a coordinated effort to raise the issue’s profile.

In a separate petition to Congress, the Computer Science Education Coalition, which is made up of some of the same executives who signed the letter, asked Congress for $250 million for school districts. That would allow computer science education to reach 3.5 million students in 52,000 classrooms, the letter said.

In addition, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google, Microsoft and others pledged $48 million to the effort, with $23 million of it going to Code.org, a national nonprofit that promotes and teaches coding.

Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post, promoted the cause:

One of our biggest opportunities in education right now is teaching more kids how to code.

Right now, there are 500,000 computing jobs open in America alone, but we produce only 50,000 computer science graduates every year. That makes no sense.

When I was growing up, a lot of people thought coding was something only nerds like me did. But today it’s clear that coding is a basic skill and is something everyone should be able to do, like reading. It’s something every school should teach.

That’s why I signed this petition asking Congress to support teaching computer science in our schools. This is one of the greatest opportunities of our time. As our world gets more connected, it’s more important than ever that we teach our children to code.

As I wrote during December’s Hour of Code, a national event to bring coding education to classrooms, there is a gap between the growing calls for computer science education and what coding instruction is actually offered at schools, which isn’t a whole lot.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to make a $4 billion investment in computer science education, including a call for $40 million in funding in the 2017 budget, The Hill reports.

It’s unclear if these efforts will push Congress to provide more federal funding for the issue.

Photo: Niki Taradash, left, and Abigail McCormick learn to code at the Apple Store in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (John Green/Bay Area News Group) 

 

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