Tech leaders press Congress on computer science funding

Top executives at dozens of technology companies signed a letter pressing Congress to provide more funds to help teach students computer science. 

The letter comes along with $48 million in private donations announced Tuesday to help the cause from companies like Google, Microsoft, AT&T and tech leaders such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

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“We ask you to provide funding for every student in every school to have an opportunity to learn computer science,” states the letter, sent to every member of Congress. 

The letter was signed by executives at nearly every major technology company, other major businesses such as Wal-Mart, dozens of governors, nonprofit groups and K-12 administrators around the country. 

The letter was organized by Code.org and the Computer Science Education Coalition, which was started last month. The group has pressed Congress to provide $250 million in funding this year to go along with a recently passed law that gives school districts more ways to use block grants to fund computer science classes. 

The letter touted the economic benefit of training millions of children in what the group calls an “increasingly basic skill.” But the letter also appealed to lawmakers’ national security priorities. 

“Whether a student aspires to be a software engineer, or if she just wants a well-rounded education in today’s changing world, access to computer science in school is an economic imperative for our nation to remain competitive. And with the growing threat of cyber warfare, this is even a critical matter of national security,” the letter reads. 

The group noted that three quarters of schools do not offer meaningful computer science classes and warned that it is often “students of color and girls” who are left out. 

President Obama has pushed funding for computer science. He highlighted it in his State of the Union address and offered a budget that would provide $4 billion in funding over the next five years.