Cantwell Continues Push for Coding Education, Focuses on Rural, Underserved Areas

Amendment comes after Cantwell provision to expand grant programs for high school coding programs signed into law

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Republican Bill Cassidy (LA) introduced an amendment to the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education budget calling for more funding to support the development and implementation of K-12 computer coding education programs.

“Every student in the United States should have the opportunity to learn about the internet, and algorithms, and apps. This is a skills gap we have to close,” Cantwell said in a Senate speech about the importance of coding education last month.

The amendment also requests that the Secretary of Education prioritize coding program grant applications from rural or underserved areas.

“Ninety percent of parents want their children to study computer science, and we should be giving more opportunities,” Cantwell said. “Students in cities and suburbs and rural communities all should have access to computer science programs.”

Learning to write and read code is important to creating and innovating in cyberspace, preparing students for the jobs of the future, and helping to bolster the national security and economic competitiveness of the United States.

In her speech, Cantwell pointed to the impact tech and internet companies have on the economy. In Washington state alone, 13,000 companies provide more than 250,000 jobs.

And yet, the state’s workforce has struggled to keep up with the demand for new coding jobs. In 2015, only 1,212 Washington students graduated from college with computer science degrees, leaving more than 16,200 computing jobs in the state unfilled.

Cantwell said that in many cases the barriers to coding education are the costs of developing a computer science curriculum and getting the program up and running in a school.

In June of this year, Cantwell and Cassidy introduced bipartisan legislation to create a new grant program to help high schools throughout the country establish or expand coding education programs.

“By giving local communities the resources they need, schools and teachers can develop and implement good computer science curriculum that make the most sense for those communities.”

In late July, a provision sponsored by Cantwell to give schools around the country access to existing grant money to develop and implement coding curriculums was signed into law by President Donald Trump.

“This is a great example of what we can do in working together in a bipartisan manner. It is the first of an important step to make sure that every student understands some level of what our economy is going to be built on in the future,” said Cantwell.