House Adopts Brooks-Polis Computer Science Amendment
The U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment offered by Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) today aiming to expand opportunities for students in classrooms across the nation by enhancing teacher training in computer science.
“We all know that a great education system and more jobs is the winning formula for the biggest challenges we face,” Rep. Brooks said. “By providing our students opportunities to master the skills that will drive tomorrow’s economy, we’re helping to build an American workforce that will lead the world in innovation and prosperity. We’re supporting administrators, teachers and parents who want to see more students excel in this emerging and exciting field. I am thrilled Representative Polis and I were able to take up this important cause together.”
This amendment adds computer science into the Student Success Act, clarifying and encouraging federal funds to be used to support training computer science educators. This new flexibility comes at no additional cost to taxpayers since it simply provides access to funds already set aside for professional development through ESEA.
"In order to provide students with the skills they need to compete in an increasingly global economy, we must stop thinking about computer science as an elective and begin to treat it as part of our core curriculum,” Rep. Polis said. “I am proud that Representative Brooks and I were able to pass an amendment to clarify that federal funds can be used to provide teachers with training and professional development so that schools are better able to introduce our nation's students to this emerging and exciting field."
By 2020, there will be 9.2 million jobs in the STEM field and half of them will be in computing and information technology. However, only 10 percent of high schools currently offer Advanced Placement Computer Science as a course.
This effort aims to address this disconnect as well as gender and race gaps that have existed within the computing field for too long. In 2011, only 25 percent of the computer science workforce was female, with three percent and one percent representation coming from African American and Hispanic women.
It is supported by Computing in the Core, a non-partisan coalition working to ensure access to quality computer science courses, whose members include Microsoft, Google, Oracle and the National Center for Women and Information Technology. It is also endorsed by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).
Representative Susan W. Brooks represents Indiana’s 5th District in Congress and is a former Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Ivy Tech Community College. Representative Jared Polis represents Colorado’s 2nd District in Congress and is the former Chair of the Colorado State Board of Education as well as an internet entrepreneur. Both members serve on the Education and the Workforce Committee.