Peters Visits Detroit International Academy to Promote K-12 Computer Science Education

Peters Legislation Encourages Inclusion & Diversity in STEM Fields

DETROIT - U.S. Senator Gary Peters today visited the Detroit International Academy for Young Women to highlight the importance of expanding K-12 computer science education to ensure all students can successfully compete in the global economy. While there, Peters also highlighted the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced that was signed into law earlier this year, that will improve and expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities—including computer science—for women and promote diversity in STEM fields.

“Detroit International Academy is helping to produce the next generation of innovators by utilizing modern-day technologies to increase students’ exposure to computer science skills,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “The demand for digitally skilled workers will only increase, and we must equip our young people with the education and knowledge to compete in a global economy. I am working in the Senate to ensure more young women have access to STEM and computer science educational opportunities to help keep Michigan and the United States at the cutting-edge of technological advances.”

Already, 50% of jobs today require some digital skills, but by the end of the decade, some 77% of jobs will require technological skills. However, only 40% of schools in the U.S. teach computer programming. This limited access is particularly pronounced among girls and minority populations. Of the 962 high school students in Michigan who took the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam in 2016, only 22% were female.

The Detroit International Academy for Young Women is an all-girls K-12 public school in Detroit, focusing on STEM education. The school utilizes 21st century tools as a component of student curriculum, including SMARTBoards, computers and Student Response Systems. In the 2017-2018 school year, the school will join Microsoft’s TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program, which pairs trained computer science professionals with high school teachers to teach computer science programs.

In the U.S., the #1 source of all new wages come from computing-related occupations. In Michigan alone, there over 14,090 open computing jobs that pay an average salary for $78,001. Despite this opportunity, there were only 1,793 computer science graduates in 2015, and only 16% were female. Only 71 schools – or 11% of Michigan schools - offered Advanced Placement computer science course. Research shows that students who take computer science in K-12 are about ten times more likely to pursue it as a college degree.

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which sets federal science and research priorities, maximizes basic research opportunities and encourages scientific entrepreneurship. The bill establishes an Advisory Panel of academic and industry experts to provide recommendations on improving STEM programs – including computer science. It also creates a working group to study how to improve inclusion of women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields.