$1.3 trillion federal spending bill has good news for CS!

Last week Congress passed a 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill. This massive bill was the subject of intense negotiations, caused two government shutdowns, and provoked a last-minute veto threat, but it finally resolves federal spending for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2017. The final result is a good one for computer science education and educators. It increases funding for Department of Education (ED) programs and has some emphasis on computer science.

Title IV, Part A

The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program was created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and makes funds available to districts for multiple uses, including computer science courses. Last year, the program received $400 million; with a $700 million increase in FY 2018, the program will now be funded at $1.1 billion. (Learn more about the program.)

Congress emphasized their commitment to computer science through the “report language” accompanying the legislation, which encourages the Department to especially support pre-kindergarten through grade 12 computer science education programs that address the enrollment and achievement gap for underrepresented students such as minorities, girls, and youth from families living at or below the poverty line. The $1.1 billion available to states will be distributed by formula; states will then distribute the funds to districts meaning every district in the country that wants this money can get it.

EIR

The Education Innovation and Research program provides competitive grant funding to education programs and partnerships the Department of Education seeks to replicate on a broader scale. (See winning proposals here.) Earlier this year, the White House proposed funding this program at $180 million in FY 2019 and dedicating all of those dollars to awards in STEM, with a particular focus on computer science. Congress will decide what to do about that in coming weeks and months. Right now, they’re dedicating $50 million of FY 2018’s EIR grants to STEM and computer science, which is consistent with the Administration’s STEM and computer science push. The Department of Education is expected to ask for new applications in April!

What Else?

Other programs authorized by the ESSA and that are important to public K-12 education fared well in the bill. Title I investments in the country’s poorest schools will increase. Title II, the Supporting Effective Instruction State grants that states use to invest in professional development and other activities, will receive over $2 billion. Career and technical education state grants, IDEA grants to states, afterschool programs, and charter schools will all see more funding in FY 2018.

In coming weeks, we hope to see more announcements from ED about their FY 2018 competitive grants, including the EIR program. The Code.org Advocacy Coalition will also start talking to lawmakers about FY 2019 spending.

Della B. Cronin, Consultant to Code.org


See the excerpts of the bill’s report language here.

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