President Obama’s Budget Proposal Puts Billions of Dollars Toward Coding Programs

You hear it all the time: Technology jobs will dominate the workplace of the future. Schools around the nation, including those in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, have responded by offering more computer programming courses. Programming, or coding, is called the new reading and writing.

"Students who do not master that skill are missing out on both economic opportunities as well as social mobility opportunity," said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Technology rules, and learning how to code can help kids rule technology. That's why President Obama's budget proposal contains $4 billion to fund coding programs in public schools. He calls it the Computer Science for All Initiative.

"Right investment, right time, for absolutely the right reason," Carvalho said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says by 2020, there will be about a million computer science-related jobs with no one to fill them.

Obama's budget proposal is earmarked to help schools recruit more girls and minorities into computer coding.

"Yay! Finally!" said Lisa Hauser, reacting to the president's plan. She teaches math at iPrep Academy and sponsors the Girls Who Code club at the school. Hauser said it should be a national imperative to get more girls involved with computer science.

"We don't have enough talent to fill the jobs of tomorrow. So we have a choice to make. Do we want to source those jobs elsewhere or do we want to train our people to be able to do them?" Hauser explained.

The statistics are troubling. Only 18 percent of college graduates in computer science are women. iPrep senior Maria Mejia plans on bucking that trend. She's applying to the nation's top tech universities, with coding in her future.

"So it's important that you know not only how to use the computer for regular consumer purposes but also how to use the computer to create your own things," Mejia said, pointing out that computer skills are needed in virtually every field.

"This is a new economic landscape, and the new economy worldwide requires a new skill set," said Carvalho, but the superintendent also made it clear that educators shouldn't let the pendulum swing too far in the direction of computer science to the exclusion of other vital subjects.

"Yes, we must teach computer technology and coding, but alongside foreign languages and fine arts and physical education, that makes for a holistic educational approach," Carvalho explained. "So I'm absolutely a supporter of coding but not at the expense of other critical elements that make for good public education."

Obama's plan also earmarks $100 million which would be divided up into grants. School districts would compete for that money by designing programs which bring coding to underserved communities. Both the Miami-Dade and Broward public school districts have been leaders in that effort, expanding computer science programs in inner city schools.

If your kids aren't on the coding train yet, make sure they jump on board before it leaves the station.

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