A picture of Representative Joe Courtney
Joe C.
Democrat CT 2

About Rep. Joe
  • Expressing Support for Use of Public-Private Partnerships to Bring Computer Science Education to More K-12 Classrooms

    by Representative Joe Courtney

    Posted on 2017-12-18

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    COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in appreciation of the sentiment that is expressed in the resolution. However, I just feel that the content of this resolution, if it is examined closely, particularly in juxtaposition with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was the K-12 reauthorization signed into law almost exactly 2 years ago on December 10, 2015, a bipartisanship measure--Congressman Kline, who was the Republican chairman of the House Education Committee, was at the White House with his counterparts from the Senate at the bill-signing ceremony--if people go back and read that, they will see that actually the road map and the pathway to achieve the goal of this resolution was actually laid out by folks from both sides of the aisle in terms of boosting authorized funding for K-12, particularly for low-income students, raising the authorizing for title I schools, which has been the workhorse of the Federal Government in terms of trying to help target resources for kids who come from distressed sectors and areas in terms of urban areas and rural areas, and also had many voluntary permissive authorizations for STEM.

    Now, if anything, this resolution understates the scope of the demand that is out there for computer science and for STEM skills. There is not a sector in the American economy, from agriculture, where the gentleman comes from in Kansas, farmers are out there using STEM skills every single day in terms of food production. It exists in manufacturing.

    I come from a district that is a shipbuilding district. We are in the process of boosting submarine production up in Groton, Connecticut. The metal trades workers are out there using computer [[Page H10153]] skills on the shop floors to make sure that that precision manufacturing happens accurately.

    Certainly, financial services up in Hartford, Connecticut, the home of insurance companies like Travelers and The Hartford, they just started a couple years ago the Insurance and Finance Academy, which is a magnet school that brings in Travelers, Smith Barney, and The Hartford to collaborate with the public school system to make sure that kids, particularly low-income kids, from Hartford, Connecticut, are getting the opportunity to learn about things like finance, banking-- giving them those skills--which are intrinsically connected to computer science.

    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that there is great appetite in the private sector for public-private partnerships. I would stipulate to that and again argue that, in fact, the resolution almost understates what is out there.

    What is missing is the public investment, which ESSA authorized, whether it was title I, whether it is funding to boost teaching skills in the STEM area. We try to give permissive authority to school districts to find math teachers, science teachers, computer science teachers, engineering folks and their curriculum, which every school district is crying out for. There isn't a Member in this body who isn't hearing about that back home.

    We want to solve that problem. A resolution like this is certainly not going to get in the way of that, but what we need to do is make sure we fund the authorizations that, on a bipartisanship basis, we passed in 2015.

    Unfortunately, if you look at the budget that came over from the White House back in May, the White House proposed a 13.5 percent cut to the Department of Education, elimination of all Federal funding for K- 12 teacher professional development, and afterschool programs, which I was up at one of them, the 21st Century Learning After School Program in Norwich, Connecticut, a distressed municipality. They had kids, after school, working on their computer skills, their math skills, their science skills to give them the chance to keep up with their grade level and to be school ready when they go into high school.

    {time} 1700 Again, the big one was the cut to title 1, which, as I said, is the workhorse making sure that low-income kids actually have funding levels that at least come somewhat close to their counterparts in more wealthy parts of the country in wealthy school districts. So, again, this resolution is not certainly going to be a negative, but it certainly misses the opportunity that we really should be focused on as Members of Congress for bolstering the public side of the public-private partnership.

    As I said, the private sector is speaking loud and clear that they are looking for these skills and actually stepping forward like companies like General Dynamics at the shipyard that I described in southeastern Connecticut or The Hartford and Travelers up in the capital city of the State of Connecticut.

    What we need to be doing is match them in terms of our commitment to make sure we are funding magnet school programs, again, title 1 programs, that help the 90 percent of kids who are in public schools so that we actually are going to achieve the goal which this resolution sets forward.

    So, again, I certainly commend the sentiment of the sponsors of this, but it leaves out, really, what I think is the real question of the day, which is whether or not we are going to step up as a nation and truly fund public-private partnerships to boost computer science skills.

    Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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