05.28.21

Lee, Fleischmann Introduce Legislation to Improve Equity in Computer Science Education

Washington, D.C. – Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) today reintroduced the Computer Science for All Act with Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). This bipartisan legislation provides $250 million in new grants to support a diverse tech pipeline in pre-K through grade 12 education.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of computer science is projected to grow by 22 percent through 2029, making it one of the fastest-growing professions in the global economy. In 2020, only 30 percent of Advanced Placement Computer Science exam takers were girls. This disparity is even greater for students of color as only 6 percent of test takers were African American and 16 percent were Latino.  

This bill establishes a program through which the Department of Education (ED) awards grants to states, local educational agencies, and eligible tribal schools to provide a national replication of computer education expansion efforts. 

“It’s past time Congress addressed the persistent gap for young women and people of color in the field of computer science,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the CBC’s TECH2025 initiative. “We must invest in preparing our young people for the STEM jobs of the future by providing training and learning opportunities, especially in low-income and underserved communities. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation to ensure there is a robust and diverse pipeline of talent into this rapidly growing field.”  

“Investing in computer science literacy is key to bridge the skills gap and create a stable workforce while providing good paying jobs in our communities,” said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.  

“Ensuring all students have access to cutting-edge educational opportunities in computer science is critical to preparing them for the careers of tomorrow,” said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, an original cosponsor of the legislation. “As a former tech executive and entrepreneur, I know firsthand that our economic competitiveness demands smart investments in building a 21st century workforce, which starts by giving our children a great education. Congress must increase access to computer science and this legislation is an important first step.” 

“The persistent lack of diversity in the tech industry is a key problem that amplifies several issues requiring our attention and focus,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield, who serves as a co-chair of the CBC’s TECH2025 initiative. “We must do everything in our power to prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers in STEAM fields. Congress must act to strengthen the pipeline and clear pathways to these careers so that we include many of our best and brightest problem solvers, critical thinkers, and those that challenge conventional thinking, who are seldom included, when addressing our nation’s important issues. I commend Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her continued leadership to ensure full representation at every level of this growing industry, and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us.” 

Grants will go to:  

·         training teachers to teach computer science; 

·         expanding access to high-quality learning materials and online learning options; 

·         creating  plans for expanding overall access to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics            (STEAM) classes; 

·         utilize computer science as a catalyst for increased interest in STEAM more broadly; 

·         reduce course equity gaps for all students; and 

This legislation includes updated data concerning unequal computer science education in high poverty areas, majority minority areas and amongst certain demographics of students including women and underrepresented minorities  

For the full text of the legislation, click here.  

Find quotes below from supporting organizations:  

“Right now, there are over 400,000 open computing jobs in the United States. Frustratingly, only 47% of our public high schools teach computer science. At Code.org, we are committed to ensuring that every student has access to computer science, and the Computer Science For All Act would make important investments in state-led efforts to expand access to computer science for all students. That’s helpful to millions of K-12 students in classrooms across the country, and it will also benefit the country’s workforce and economy. We thank Representative Lee for her steadfast support of computer science education and look forward to seeing the Computer Science For All Act becoming law.”—Hadi Partovi, Founder & CEO, Code.org 

Amazon is committed to diversifying the field and increasing accessibility to computer science education. This legislation does just that. We look forward to working with Representative Lee and the bill’s cosponsors to meet these objectives.” – Brian Huseman, Vice President, Amazon Public Policy