Obama Unveils $4 Billion Plan to Help Students Learn Computer Science

President Barack Obama speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, during a ceremony marking the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, during a ceremony marking the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

On Saturday, President Obama unveiled a plan to help students learn computer science.

Mr. Obama says he’ll seek more than $4 billion from Congress to fund a new program called, “Computer Science For All.” The plan aims to reboot computer science education in public schools to better prepare kids for a future workforce.

If funding is approved, the program would offer competitive grants to states and school districts with achievable plans on how to expand access to computer science and districts would need to describe computer science education plans that can be nationally replicated. Bonus points will be awarded for plans designed to attract more female and minority students.

The plan is poised to reform education and fills a growing skill gap in the US workforce.

“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill, right along with the three ‘Rs.’ Nine out of 10 parents want it taught at their children’s schools,” Obama said during his weekly address. “I’ve got a plan to help make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science, especially girls and minorities…”

In the weekly address, Obama also stated that only 25 percent of US K-12 schools offer computer science courses and 22 states do not allow computer science education to count toward a high school diploma.

There are also demographic challenges for attracting girls and minority students to computer science education, as USA Today points out. Last year, 15 percent of high schools offered Advanced Placement computer science courses, but of the students who took the AP test, only 13 percent were African-American or Hispanic. Less than 22 percent of the test takers were girls.

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SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, Corey Fedde