Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:
As you work to develop the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill for FY 2017, we ask that you support the President's request for $100 million for Computer Science for All Development Grants to make computer science learning opportunities available to every student in America.
Computing technology has become an integral part of our lives, transforming both our society and our nation's economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be roughly 10 million jobs in STEM fields by 2022, and of those jobs, half are expected to be in computing and information technology. That's nearly 5 million good-paying jobs waiting for those who choose to study computer science. Yet despite these opportunities, there continues to be a substantial shortage of Americans with the skills needed to fill computing jobs -- particularly among women and minorities. Ensuring all kids in K-12 schools have access to computer science learning opportunities is a critical step in preparing them for the college degrees and careers of the future.
Unfortunately, too few students in the United States today are exposed to computer science and given the opportunity to pursue high-quality programming and coding coursework. Only 1 in 4 American schools currently teach the subject, and more than 20 states still do not allow computer science classes to count toward high school graduation. What's worse, dramatic disparities remain for girls and students of color. Last year, less than 25 percent of students taking the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science test were girls, while less than 15 percent were African-American or Latino. It is time for Congress to take decisive action to increase access to computer science education for all.
To prepare the next generation to compete in the digital economy, the President's budget proposes an important investment in new Computer Science for All Development Grants. These grants will provide essential resources to help school districts expand students' access to learning opportunities in computer science, from kindergarten through high school -- a critical move to ensure the strength of our future workforce and our long-term economic growth. By allowing more schools in our communities to teach vital skills like coding, programming, designing and debugging, we can make sure our kids aren't left unprepared for a rapidly changing economy.
While we understand the difficult fiscal challenges you face, we encourage you to recognize that computer science is quickly becoming an essential skill for today's students -- tomorrow's workers -- by funding the President's request for $100 million for Computer Science for All Development Grants. Thank you for your consideration of this request.