Time for the US to buckle down on computer-science education
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Today’s global job market requires computer skills at unprecedented levels. As the world becomes more technologically interdependent, it is critical that American students have the skills to compete with their global counterparts.

That is why it is imperative that the next president be an unwavering champion of expanded computer science education. 

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The Obama administration made progress when it announced its new Computer Science for All initiative in February, which allocated $4 billion in federal money to help teach computer science to grades K-12. This was a good start, but we must do even more. 

Aside from being the right thing to do for our students and our country, there’s another glaring incentive for students to have first-rate computer science skills: Money. Simply put, employers are willing to pay top dollar to hire people with these skills. 

Glassdoor, a website where employers are evaluated, recently published the findings of a study it conducted in a report, “50 Highest Paying College Majors.” Glassdoor sought to determine which majors pay the most during college graduates’ first five years out of school by analyzing nearly 500,000 resumes, along with salary reports.

The study concluded that all 10 of the Top 10 best-paying majors were in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

At the top of the list was computer science, with computer science graduates earning a median base salary of $70,000 a year. Software architects can command nearly $130,000 straight out of school.

Glassdoor’s findings are only the latest to reinforce what we already know about the need to rethink our country’s education policies in favor of more computer science education.

The next president should encourage and incentivize states and cities to prioritize computer science and STEM education — and not just at the college level, but also throughout our elementary, middle and high schools.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Biden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden goes on offense MORE has said she supports efforts to “ensure that all public school students in America have access to rigorous computer science education by the time they graduate,” and she will ensure that it happens within five years. 

She has also stated that federal grants could be “used to redesign high schools to focus more on STEM education,” while promoting the idea that the private sector and nonprofits can help.  

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE has not addressed this issue specifically, but has instead taken a broader view of education. The Trump campaign has noted that at the state and federal level, the U.S. spends more than $620 billion on K-12 education annually. “Yet, our students perform near the bottom of the pack for major, large advanced countries,” Trump’s website states.

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Trump has suggested greater school choice — private school, magnet schools and charter laws — as the means to fix “inequities in education and failing government schools.” 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 9 million STEM-related workers will be needed by U.S. employers by the year 2022. And it estimates that only about 30 percent of the 1.4 million expected U.S. job openings for computer specialists by 2018 will be able to be filled by those currently studying computer science.

If the U.S. is to retain its competitive edge in the global economy, these numbers underscore the point that this is not just an academic concern – it’s an economic and national security issue as well. 

Even industries not normally linked with computers or technology now require highly technically skilled workers. Agriculture, for one, uses computer simulations and satellite maps to improve crop outputs and measure soil health, helping to feed an expanding population. 

Regardless of whoever is elected to succeed President Obama, one fact won’t change. 

The U.S. must do a better job at preparing its student to compete in the global marketplace. A more robust computer science education is a great place to start. 

Bertram is president and CEO of Project Lead The Way and the New York Times bestselling author of “One Nation Under Taught: Solving America’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Crisis.”


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.