A Real Solution to Cyber-Threats Facing America

Late last year, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, whose jobs is whose role is to detect and deter among other things waste, fraud, and misconduct, issued a report saying the department “will be challenged to sustain a focused, well coordinated, and robust cybersecurity approach for the foreseeable future.” The report found, “that the FBI failed to hire 52 of the 134 computer scientists that it was authorized to hire, and that 5 of the 56 field offices did not have a computer scientist assigned to that office’s Cyber Task Force.”

The Department of Justice’s report, which also includes the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, highlights a sad reality that America lacks computer experts to deal with this ongoing and growing threat. Despite the threats faced by the Homeland, little has been done by Congress to address this issue in the long term.

America’s school curriculum was design in the late 1800’s, well before the advent of the computer. Despite the fact that computer science drives innovation, job creation and national security, computer science remains marginalized throughout K-12 education.

Wired reports that “By some estimates, just one-fourth of K-12 schools in the US offer computer science that includes coding. Only 28 states allow computer science courses to count towards high school graduation, and many districts struggle to make the field a priority. Meanwhile, the demand for such skills is only increasing. Jobs in computing are growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs. By 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1 million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students qualified to fill them.”

As Congress and the bureaucracy looks for answers, the main solution is staring them in the face. America needs to prioritize computer science in our schools.

Only 30 states allow students to utilize computer science classes for credits toward graduation in high school. Thousands of America’s elementary and middle schools lack basic education in computers. This impacts American competitiveness and the need for the United States to hire foreign workers who are trained in computer sciences to fill jobs in America.

According to Code.org, only 30 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation. There are currently 559,321 open computing jobs nationwide and last year only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce. While 9 in 10 parents want their child to study computer science, only 1 in 4 schools teach computer programming. One of the motivating factors for young people is earning power and according to Code.org the average lifetime earnings for a high school graduate is $580,000 while the average lifetime earnings of a college graduate in computer science is $1.670,000. That is a strong motivator for our young Americans who want to be part of the future economy.

There are both Republican and Democratic Governors who have embraced this idea, but not enough. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is leading the charge in the state and he passed a measure to require high schools to offer computer science classes. More states need to follow this example of stressing computer science and this will help with competitiveness, national security and the insourcing of computer jobs.

Members of Congress talk quite a bit about about national security. America’s future economy must find a way to prioritize computer science for our children for a number of reasons. One way is to follow the lead of some states that have prioritized computer science.