Computer Science Gets Plug in House Bill to Revise ESEA

By Erik W. Robelen — July 29, 2013 1 min read
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Although many STEM education advocates were opposed to the House bill approved earlier this month to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, a bipartisan amendment to promote computer-science education was successfully inserted during floor debate.

The change basically makes clear that computer-science educators are eligible for the professional-development assistance provided through the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But while the amendment may have been bipartisan, support for the overall legislation was not. Indeed, not a single House Democrat voted in favor of the final bill. And the Obama administration has signaled its clear opposition as well.

(For a far more comprehensive analysis of the recent House action on the No Child Left Behind law, head on over to Politics K-12.)

The advocacy coalition Computing in the Core offered praise for the computer-science measure, saying in a statement that it helps to “clarify that computer-science educators should be supported by the bill’s professional-development initiatives.”

The amendment’s lead sponsors were Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana and Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado.

“Computer-science-education advocates are encouraged that the discipline provided a moment of bipartisan support during the debate, with the amendment winning broad support from the House of Representatives,” said the advocacy group.

Computing in the Core bills itself as a nonpartisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other nonprofits that strive to elevate computer-science education to a core academic subject in K-12 education. Members include Google, Microsoft, and the Computer Science Teachers Association, to name a few.

As noted, however, many leading STEM education advocates were not happy with the overall bill. The broad-based STEM Education Coalition said that it “lacks a strong STEM education focus.” In fact, one chief complaint is that it would eliminate altogether the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program. Funded at $142 million for the current fiscal year, this program seeks to improve the content knowledge of teachers in math and science and to help improve student achievement in those fields.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.