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Computer Science Gets Plug in House Bill to Revise ESEA

Although many STEM education advocates were opposed to the House bill approved earlier this month to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, a bipartisan amendment to promote computer-science education was successfully inserted during floor debate.

The change basically makes clear that computer-science educators are eligible for the professional-development assistance provided through the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But while the amendment may have been bipartisan, support for the overall legislation was not. Indeed, not a single House Democrat voted in favor of the final bill. And the Obama administration has signaled its clear opposition as well.

(For a far more comprehensive analysis of the recent House action on the No Child Left Behind law, head on over to Politics K-12.)

The advocacy coalition Computing in the Core offered praise for the computer-science measure, saying in a statement that it helps to "clarify that computer-science educators should be supported by the bill's professional-development initiatives."

The amendment's lead sponsors were Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana and Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado.

"Computer-science-education advocates are encouraged that the discipline provided a moment of bipartisan support during the debate, with the amendment winning broad support from the House of Representatives," said the advocacy group.

Computing in the Core bills itself as a nonpartisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other nonprofits that strive to elevate computer-science education to a core academic subject in K-12 education. Members include Google, Microsoft, and the Computer Science Teachers Association, to name a few.

As noted, however, many leading STEM education advocates were not happy with the overall bill. The broad-based STEM Education Coalition said that it "lacks a strong STEM education focus." In fact, one chief complaint is that it would eliminate altogether the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program. Funded at $142 million for the current fiscal year, this program seeks to improve the content knowledge of teachers in math and science and to help improve student achievement in those fields.

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