Computer science education supporters have spent six years working to get two simple words included in the sweeping rewrite of U.S. education policy that President Barack Obama signed into law on Thursday.
They ended up being included on page 807, where the bill defines the subjects that make up a well-rounded education. “Computer science” made the list for the first time, sandwiched between geography and music class.
The whole thing may just seem like semantics, but education non-profit Code.org says those two words are the government’s way of recognizing that computer science should be a core part of every school’s mission.
In a Thursday blog post commemorating the signing of the so-called Every Child Succeeds Act, Code.org COO Cameron Wilson explained how the designation will put computer science on a level playing field with other subjects.
The organization points out that computer science has long been considered a luxury, with just 25 percent of schools teaching the subject at all. According to stats from the U.S. Department of Education, there were nine states in 2015 where not a single African-American student took an Advanced Placement test in the subject.
But now, federal law explicitly puts computer science on par with other subjects like math and history. That means teachers will have access to federal dollars for career development programs, and schools will have more incentive than ever to include computer science in the curriculum.
“In the United States, education is driven by the local governments, not the federal government,” Wilson wrote. “But this move at the federal level is a big step towards our long-term vision: that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science.”