Computer science, cybersecurity education rank high in budget

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Acting Education Secretary John King on Tuesday touted President Barack Obama’s computer science education initiative, the signature schools program in his federal budget proposal.

“It’s not just about the computer science skills you might need for a professional career, but there are a set of problem-solving skills that one develops … that can empower the overall education,” King said during a briefing about the budget, which has to be approved by Congress.

Nearly $70 billion was requested for discretionary education spending, a 2 percent increase over last year, officials said.

King said the budget proposal was organized around “advancing equity and excellence, supporting teachers and promoting access and affordability in postsecondary education.”

Obama proposed allocating $4 billion in mandatory spending to expand computer science classes, programs and professional development for teachers, and $100 million in discretionary spending for a competitive grant program. Technology companies and school districts alike applauded his announcement.

The budget will ostensibly go into effect the first year that the new Every Student Succeeds Act is put into practice in schools across the country, during the 2017-18 academic year.

Cybersecurity initiatives and the STEM Master Teachers Corps, a program that Obama first unveiled in 2012, also figure prominently in his proposal. There is a $62 million proposed cyber education blueprint, including scholarships for those who want to study cybersecurity and a new cybersecurity core curriculum that would better prepare and train college graduates who want to work for the federal government.

Building on the recently released College Scorecard, which allows prospective students to compare and contrast universities based on financial aid and other metrics, the budget also includes support for InformED, which would make Department of Education data more accessible for internal users and the public. Obama included $15 million to build new infrastructure to manage the collection, quality, release and analysis of information.

Also included in the spending plan:

  • $80 million for a Next Generation High School program that would be modeled after the P-TECH schools, which offer students both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in a technology field.
  • $180 million for a new Education Innovation and Research program that would be modeled after the existing Investing in Innovation grant program.
  • Additional funds to enhance student loan forgiveness programs for cybersecurity experts joining the federal workforce.
  • $15 billion in Title I funds to turn around low-performing schools.
  • $60 billion to make two-year community college free.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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