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Obama proposes $4 billion for computer education

By Daniel Uria   |   Jan. 30, 2016 at 9:11 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama called for $4 billion for computer science education programs nationwide in a push to improve economic opportunities for students.

Obama, in his weekly address, said the Computer Science for All initiative would provide $4 billion to states for computer education programs, as well as $100 million sent directly to school districts to promote what the president referred to as a necessary skill for economic opportunity.

"In the new economy, computer science isn't an optional skill - it's a basic skill, right along with the three 'Rs'," said President Obama. "Nine out of ten parents want it taught at their children's schools."

Despite the high demand for computer science education, only a quarter of United States schools offer computer science programs, the White House said. Twenty two states don't allow such programs to count toward a diploma.

If passed, the initiative would also invest $135 million to support and train computer science teachers through the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Obama also called for support from private entities such as Google, SalesForce and Code.org to assist in teaching students computer science skills.

Microsoft president Brad Smith told the New York Times that the president's plan is a "social imperative" for the education of school children.

"More than anything else, what we've learned is that computing and computer science have become foundational for the future," he said.

Smith said Microsoft would begin a campaign to extend its efforts in computer science education across the country.

"That's what it's all about - each of us doing our part to make sure all our young people can compete in a high tech, global economy," President Obama said. "They're the ones who ill make sure America keeps growing, keeps innovating and keeps leading the world in years ahead."

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