June 26, 2018

Cassidy, Cantwell Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost High School Coding Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today introduced the bipartisan Coding Opportunities and Development for Equitable Students (CODES) Act to help high schools throughout the country establish or expand coding education programs by creating a new grant program within the National Activities Fund at the U.S. Department of Education. These competitive grants would be available to local educational agencies to advance the computer science and coding skills that are critical to the jobs of the future, as well as the national security and economic competitiveness of the United States.

“This legislation seeks to give students the tools they need, not only for their own future, but for the future of our economy,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“Today’s students should be exposed to the computer skills of the 21st Century,” said Senator Cantwell. “In Washington state and across the nation, our tech industry is booming and creating new jobs every day, but our curriculum is not keeping up. By ensuring high school students can access computer science and coding education, we can close the skills gap and boost our country’s competitive position globally.”

The grants outlined in this legislation would be available to local educational agencies with programs that allow high school students to take a coding class in place of a mathematics, science, or foreign language class in order to fulfill a graduation requirement.

Learning to write and read code is critical to creating and innovating in cyberspace. In high schools, fewer AP exams are taken in computer science than in any other STEM subject area. While 58 percent of new STEM jobs are in computing, only 8 percent of STEM graduates are in computer science.

Specifically, the CODES Act would:

  • Direct the U.S. Secretary of Education to create a five-year demonstration program within the National Activities Fund that offers grants to local education agencies;
  • Prioritize grant applications from rural or underserved areas;
  • Require all grant applications to report information and statistics about their program’s findings, successes, and failures to the Department of Education; and
  • Ensure that each application provides a spending plan, description of goals, and a strategy to become a self-sustaining program.