The program is targeting students from preschool through high school. It seeks to train teachers, expand access to instructional materials and create partnerships.
President Obama is proposing spending more than $4 billion to support computer-science education in schools.
The program, dubbed the Computer Science for All Initiative, is aimed at increasing the number of students exposed to computer science and computational thinking. The annual White House budget proposal, set for release next month, will include $4 billion in funding that states can apply for, supplemented by $100 million that individual school districts can seek separately.
The White House briefed reporters about the plan on a conference call that included U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, acting U.S. Education Secretary John King, and Microsoft President Brad Smith, who has pushed for expanded computer-science education.
The program, targeting students from preschool through high school, seeks to train teachers, expand access to instructional materials and create partnerships with organizations that can aid in computer-science teaching.
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The government will also redirect existing resources, including $135 million from the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service, to support the initiative.
“We have to make sure that all of our children are equipped to be innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Megan Smith, who is a former Google executive.
The initiative would make a large pool of federal cash available to address a common complaint among technology companies — a shortage of U.S. students equipped to handle modern technology jobs.
Obama’s announcement was accompanied by a slate of new or expanded state and local government, nonprofit and corporate programs to boost computer-science teaching. That includes new cash commitments from Google and Salesforce, and expanded programs from Qualcomm and Facebook, among others.
Microsoft, which in September announced a $75 million, three-year investment in computer-science education, will complement that with a program to push U.S. states to invest in computer-science education.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, noted on the call with reporters that about 4,310 of the 37,000 U.S. high schools offer the Advanced Placement computer-science course. In 32 states, Microsoft noted, computer-science classes don’t count toward high-school graduation requirements.
“Computing and computer science have become foundational for the future, virtually across the American economy,” Brad Smith said. “Computer-science education is now an economic and social imperative for the next generation of American students.”