THE BLOG
10/08/2014 06:31 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2014

Why Is the Computer Science Education Act Now the Most Broadly Co-Sponsored Education Bill in the House?

Underpinning what is now known as the Third Industrial Revolution, computers and information technology have influenced the the direction of our nation and redefined social norms and youths' aspirations. Towards the beginning of this transformation, users of information and communications technology (ICT) were self-instructed, frequently tinkering around in their spare time. What previously had been thought of a vocational subject or hobby, decades later, would represent the foundation of commerce, communications and development.

With every revolution, new disciplines of study are begotten. Classical literature, languages, mathematics and sciences have been augmented by modern interpretations; in the 19th and 20th century, for example, the study of political economy developed into the formal subject of economics, emerging from the first two Industrial Revolutions. Studies of time and motion, operational efficiencies and new fields of engineering emerged creating a new lexicon for commerce and production, upsetting the prior status quo associated with the eras prior and inclusive of the the 18th century. In the past half-century, ICT has fundamentally shifted the methods in which we interact, conduct business and develop our future.

Netizens have experienced much of the technology adoption lifecycle associated with the end-user experience of this generation's computers and mobile devices; but we are still among the "early adoption" stage of ICT education. Consequently, it is vital that Information and computer sciences and languages are integrated into educational curricula as introduced by Representatives Susan Brooks and Jared Polis in their bipartisan bill, H.R.2536, "the Computer Science Education Act (CSEA)," and later introduced by Senators Robert Casey and Marco Rubio in their bipartisan bill, S. 1407, "the Computer Science Education and Jobs Act", and increase the opportunities for students in primary education to gain valuable work skills.

As a student, I have been fortunate to attend schools where computer education was prioritized and much of this laid the foundation for my interest in computers and technology. Learning how to program and manipulate code has provided me an appreciation of the potential that can be realized when harnessing computational power and enhanced my critical thinking skills. Additionally, being able to speak the language and communicate with others about computing has opened doors for me and allows for individuals with these skills to solve new complex problems in previously unimagined ways.

While in some school districts computer education starts early and there are a number of classes offering in-depth theory and praxis courses, it is important that within our current education policy framework, computer education receives the attention and focus on par with other core subjects in all school districts. Today, 41 states do not allow computer science courses to count towards secondary school core graduation requirements. And of the 3,400,000 AP exams given in 2011, only 20,000 were for computer science AP examination. This is a very troubling trajectory and why this Congressional legislation is urgently needed.

Computer sciences and education has the history of being an equalizer of opportunities -- because ICT development is geographic and to a certain extent, socio-economic agnostic, once the framework for developing the knowledge is in place. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the year 2010, 50 percent of the jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), or 4,600,000 jobs, will be in computing. Computer science jobs are good paying ones that average $76,000 per year. Demand for computer science majors is so strong that the $59,200 starting salary was the second highest in 2012 for college graduates. The need for and potential for computer science majors is so extraordinary that change is required in our education policy and in the classrooms.

The Computer Science Education Act and the Computer Science Education and Jobs Act are important steps forward in ensuring that our students remain competitive and are afforded the opportunity to explore and engage in computer science, among the most transformative fields in education today. And passage of these bills are also important steps forward to ensure America retains its technological advantage in this increasingly competitive world.

Net Literacy is a student-founded digital inclusion and literacy nonprofit that has donated more than 31,000 computers increasing computer and broadband access to over 250,000 individuals and its accomplishments have been included in the FCC's National Broadband Plan presented to Congress and honored by two American Presidents. As executive director of Net Literacy and in behalf of the 3,500 student volunteers that have learned STEM skills while serving our communities, we wholeheartedly support H.R.2536, the Computer Science Education Act and S. 1407, the Computer Science Education and Jobs Act. And at Net Literacy, we know first hand that Representative Susan Brooks is a strong supporter of digital inclusion, education, and computer science and we are especially proud that Representative Brooks introduced the CSEA and that over one hundred members of the House of Representatives have now joined with Representative Polis and her to co-sponsored this important bill!

If you want to write your Representative or Senator and ask them to endorse these bills, please learn how from Computing in the Core, a nonpartican advoacy coalition, by clicking on this link - http://www.computinginthecore.org/csea