Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, a Democrat, would like to make computer science as fundamental to American education as math and social studies.
Before entering public service, Rep. Polis spent years as an entrepreneur and saw firsthand the difference that technical skills (such as programing and IT support) make when a young person seeks employment. His proposed Computer Science Education Act, introduced with Indiana Representative Susan Brooks (a Republican), would shift some teacher-training funds towards computer science, making it a core subject area.
Representative Polis knows, however, the challenges that come with such a change. One problem is a lack of resources to train teachers in these new skills, and another is that computer tech, still being a relative new field, does not have the armies of lobbyists in Washington that legacy industries have. Still, Representative Polis sees this fundamental change in American education as essential for maintaining our egalitarianism.
“We have a meritocracy as a country,” says Representative Polis, “ but if you don’t have the basic skills to compete, you can’t even get in the door.”
As part of our Up-and-Comers series, Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, speaks with Representative Polis about how to raise computer literacy for young people across the country — especially women, minorities, and lower-income students.