Pa. governor gives 'underserved' K-12 districts $8.7 million for computer science education

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Flickr / Governor Tom Wolf)

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week an $8.7 million investment in computer science classes and teacher training for K-12 schools as part of the state’s commitment to STEM education and emerging technology jobs.

“Over the next decade, seven in ten new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and new technologies in a constantly changing economy,” Wolf said in a press release Wednesday. “With these grants, more students will get the skills they need for emerging high-demand jobs.”

The targeted grants serve as part of the governor’s new PAsmart initiative, an investment in the commonwealth’s existing and future workforce. According to the state website, the initiative secured $20 million to bring high-quality computer science and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to elementary, middle, and high school students, and professional development for teachers.

Of 500 public K-12 school districts in the state, the new funding will benefit 221 school districts, two career and technical centers, 18 charter and cyber charter schools, and eight intermediate units. Each recipient will be given $35,000 to be used for the introduction and expansion of computer science educational programming. The funding will reach 765 schools, which equates to roughly $11,000 per school.

According to the governor’s office, the schools to receive funding were selected based on how the investment could reach “students of color, low-income students and girls to learn critical skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.”

“Equity continues to be an area of focus for Pennsylvania’s schools by providing access and opportunities to all students regardless of zip code,” said state Education Secretary Pedro Rivera. “The PAsmart targeted grants will help to address opportunity gaps, boosting participation among historically underserved and underrepresented student populations.”

Pensylvania’s investment into STEM education comes as other states announce similar initiatives to address the changing needs of the workforce and education. Utah lawmakers, for example, recently granted $20 million for new digital teaching and learning programs.

Additional funding in the PAsmart initiative is to be announced in the coming weeks.

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