Weekly Address: President Obama – Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science For All

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President discussed his plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school. The President noted that our economy is rapidly shifting, and that educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity. The President referenced his Computer Science for All Initiative, which provides $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for districts in his upcoming budget; and invests more than $135 million beginning this year by the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to support and train CS teachers. The President called on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved in the efforts.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science For All

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address, The White House, January 30, 2016

Hi everybody. As I said in my State of the Union address, we live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s affecting the way we live and the way we work. New technology replaces any job where work can be automated. Workers need more skills to get ahead. These changes aren’t new, and they’re only going to accelerate. So the question we have to ask ourselves is, “How can we make sure everyone has a fair shot at success in this new economy?”

The answer to that question starts with education. That’s why my Administration has encouraged states to raise standards. We’ve cut the digital divide in our classrooms in half. We’ve worked with Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to set the expectation that every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a good job. And thanks to the hard work of students, teachers, and parents across the country, our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.

Now we have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future – which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy. Today’s auto mechanics aren’t just sliding under cars to change the oil; they’re working on machines that run on as many as 100 million lines of code. That’s 100 times more than the Space Shuttle. Nurses are analyzing data and managing electronic health records. Machinists are writing computer programs. And workers of all kinds need to be able to figure out how to break a big problem into smaller pieces and identify the right steps to solve it.

In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill, right along with the three “Rs.” Nine out of ten parents want it taught at their children’s schools. Yet right now, only about a quarter of our K through 12 schools offer computer science. Twenty-two states don’t even allow it to count toward a diploma.

So I’ve got a plan to help make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science, especially girls and minorities. It’s called Computer Science For All. And it means just what it says – giving every student in America an early start at learning the skills they’ll need to get ahead in the new economy.

First, I’m asking Congress to provide funding over the next three years so that our elementary, middle, and high schools can provide opportunities to learn computer science for all students.

Second, starting this year, we’re leveraging existing resources at the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to train more great teachers for these courses.

And third, I’ll be pulling together governors, mayors, business leaders, and tech entrepreneurs to join the growing bipartisan movement around this cause. Americans of all kinds – from the Spanish teacher in Queens who added programming to her classes to the young woman in New Orleans who worked with her Police Chief to learn code and share more data with the community – are getting involved to help young people learn these skills. And just today, states like Delaware and Hawaii, companies like Google and SalesForce, and organizations like Code.org have made commitments to help more of our kids learn these skills.

That’s what this is all about – each of us doing our part to make sure all our young people can compete in a high-tech, global economy. They’re the ones who will make sure America keeps growing, keeps innovating, and keeps leading the world in the years ahead. And they’re the reason I’ve never been more confident about our future.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. This past week, the president released new rules regarding solitary confinement in federal prisons. The rules were the result of a report from the Justice Department.

    President Obama: “Why We Must Rethink Solitary Confinement” from Facebook:

    Six years ago, a 16-year-old named Kalief Browder from the Bronx was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island to await trial, where he reportedly endured unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards – and spent nearly two years in solitary confinement. In 2013, Kalief was released, having never stood trial. One Saturday, he committed suicide.

    Too often, solitary confinement is overused on people like Kalief. As many as 100,000 people in America are being held in solitary confinement – including juveniles and people with mental illnesses. Research shows it can potentially lead to devastating psychological consequences. The overuse of this tactic doesn’t make us safer – it’s an affront to our common humanity.

    I asked the Department of Justice to review the overuse of solitary confinement, and as I announced today, I’m adopting their recommendations to reform the federal prison system, including a ban on solitary confinement for low-level offenses and for juveniles, expanding treatment for the mentally ill, and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. You can read more about this announcement in a piece I wrote in The Washington Post, here: http://wapo.st/1ZONjUV

    From that op-ed:

    Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.

    The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.

    The Justice Department report:

    The Report sets out more than 50 Guiding Principles, which cover a range of important reform areas including the use of the restrictive housing as a form of punishment, the appropriate conditions of confinement in restrictive housing, and the proper treatment of vulnerable inmate populations, such as juveniles, pregnant women, LGBTI inmates, and inmates with serious mental illness. These principles are informed by the best practices developed by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). […]

    In recent years, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has reduced its use of restrictive housing by 25 percent without compromising the safety of its correctional officers and its facilities. The Report makes concrete recommendations that will accelerate this trend and change the conditions for thousands of inmates through a multi-pronged strategy.

    The recommendations are here Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing.

  2. President Obama on Advancing Equal Pay:

    Today, women account for almost half of the workforce. But the typical woman who works full time still earns 79 cents for every dollar that the typical man does. The gap is even wider for women of color. The typical black working woman makes only 60 cents. The typical Latino woman makes only 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns. And that’s not right. We’re talking about oftentimes folks doing the same job and being paid differently. And it means that women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves.

    It doesn’t just offend our values. At a time when women are increasingly the breadwinners in our households, paying them less makes it harder for families to cover the necessities like child care or health care, just to pay the bills. It makes it harder for a family to save, harder for families to retire. It means local businesses have customers with less money to spend. So it’s not good for our communities. It’s not good for our families. It’s not good for our businesses. What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?

    Full transcript.

    From the White House: FACT SHEET: New Steps to Advance Equal Pay on the Seventh Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The most important is a new data gathering requirement:

    EEOC Action on Pay Data Collection: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in partnership with the Department of Labor, is publishing a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. The proposal would cover over 63 million employees. This step – stemming from a recommendation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in April 2014 – will help focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations. It expands on and replaces an earlier plan by the Department of Labor to collect similar information from federal contractors.

    • ThinkProgress has more:

      Obama will announce executive action on Friday to institute a new requirement that companies with 100 or more employees report what workers are paid broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

      The information will be included on a form companies already submit every year about employee demographic information. The EEOC can then use the data to identify businesses that might have discriminatory pay gaps. The new proposal expands an executive order Obama issued two years ago, requiring federal contractors to submit pay information broken down by gender.

      The EEOC and Department of Labor will jointly publish the proposed regulation, which will be completed in September. The first employer reports would then be due a year later.

      Lack of transparency is one of the main hurdles that women and people of color face when trying to uncover potential pay discrimination. Even though workers have a legal right to discuss pay with each other, about half of all Americans working in the private sector say their employers discourage or outright ban such talk. That can make it difficult for anyone to uncover discriminatory wage scales. And in areas that tend to have more open information about their pay, such as unionized workplaces and the public sector, the gender wage gap is far smaller.

      Employers may not even be aware they have wage disparities until they themselves run the numbers. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, recently launched a program throughout his company to examine all of their salaries and eliminate unfair gaps. He told the New York Times that he found that he was paying women less than men, even though he “never intended” to do so. In the 1970s and 1980s, many state governments undertook annual reviews of their pay scales and increased the pay for women who were unfairly given less, a process that eliminated 20 percent of the wage gap.

  3. Next week the president will meet with House Speaker Paul “Punyheart” Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Obstruction McConnell to discuss the legislative agenda for 2016. Included in the things that will be ignored by Congress is the issue of child hunger in America.

    The White House held a symposium about the issue this past week.

    Today, the White House will host a conversation about child hunger in America, with experts and direct service providers discussing how hunger continues to harm children across the country. Participants will discuss the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other core nutrition programs in ensuring American children have the fuel they need to thrive. The conversation will include SNAP recipients, academics, direct service providers, advocates, faith leaders, and federal, state, and local officials and will focus on the critical role of SNAP in reducing food insecurity and poverty, and the high-cost consequences when benefits are not enough to sustain a family to the end of the month. The agenda for today’s event is available HERE.

    The Obama Administration is dedicated to ensuring American children and families have the support they need to build a better future, especially when weathering life’s ups and downs, such as loss of a job, illness, or work that pays less than a livable wage. SNAP and other nutrition programs, like school meals, make a real and measurable difference in the lives of children and their families and provide a stronger future for the entire country. Building on its commitment to expanding access to opportunity for all, today the Obama Administration will announce additional actions to ensure American children have the food they need to grow, learn, and succeed.


    One of those initiatives will require Congressional funding:

    The President’s FY2017 Budget will invest $12 billion over ten years to reduce child hunger during the summer through a permanent Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) program to provide supplemental food benefits during the summer months for all families with children eligible for free and reduced price school meals. During the academic year, school meals help ensure consistent and adequate access to nutritious food for the nearly 22 million low-income children who receive free and reduced price school meals. However, only a fraction of these children receive free and reduced price meals when school is out of session. As a result, low-income children are at higher risk of food insecurity and poor nutrition during the summer. Summer EBT, which provides benefits on an electronic debit card that can only be used for food at the grocery store, fills the food budget gap in the summer; rigorous evaluations of USDA pilots of Summer EBT programs have found that they can significantly reduce food insecurity among children and improve their diet.

  4. Hey, thanks, Jan! This is full of good news. Very pleased to hear about these issues. Of course, they’re Trumped by the lamestream media.

    Re the issue of computer learning—Congress apparently included a little Christmas present in its end-of-year legislation last month. I didn’t really know about this until I received an email. It seems that 529 programs, to which I contribute for my grandchildren, have been amended to allow the purchase of computers for college-bound children. Before, the money was allowed only for room, board, books, and tuition.

    So pleased to have President Obama as our POTUS!

  5. In the News: South Carolina’s plan to track Syrian refugees

    A bill requiring state police to track refugees coming to South Carolina and to hold their sponsors liable for damages if they commit an act of terrorism is on its way to the floor of the state Senate.

    A spokesman for an organization focused on protecting the civil rights of Muslims said South Carolina is the first state he knows of that has proposed such a registry.

    It is difficult to imagine any group being willing to sponsor a family under those circumstances.

    And this:

    The bill does have wide support among Republicans, especially the more conservative ones, and their ideas on refugees were bolstered by U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney, who accepted invitations to speak.

    “If you let in the wrong Irishman, the downside is really not that serious. You let in the wrong Syrian refugee — one — and people could die,” Mulvaney said.

    Nothing racist about that! And of course Irishmen have never been involved in any acts of violence, ever.

  6. A presidential proclamation – February 1st:


    – – – – – – –



    America’s greatness is a testament to generations of courageous individuals who, in the face of uncomfortable truths, accepted that the work of perfecting our Nation is unending and strived to expand the reach of freedom to all. For too long, our most basic liberties had been denied to African Americans, and today, we pay tribute to countless good-hearted citizens — along the Underground Railroad, aboard a bus in Alabama, and all across our country — who stood up and sat in to help right the wrongs of our past and extend the promise of America to all our people. During National African American History Month, we recognize these champions of justice and the sacrifices they made to bring us to this point, we honor the contributions of African Americans since our country’s beginning, and we recommit to reaching for a day when no person is judged by anything but the content of their character.

    From the Revolutionary War through the abolitionist movement, to marches from Selma to Montgomery and across America today, African Americans have remained devoted to the proposition that all of us are created equal, even when their own rights were denied. As we rejoice in the victories won by men and women who believed in the idea of a just and fair America, we remember that, throughout history, our success has been driven by bold individuals who were willing to speak out and change the status quo.

    Refusing to accept our Nation’s original sin, African Americans bound by the chains of slavery broke free and headed North, and many others who knew slavery was antithetical to our country’s conception of human rights and dignity fought to bring their moral imagination to life. When Jim Crow mocked the advances made by the 13th Amendment, a new generation of men and women galvanized and organized with the same force of faith as their enslaved ancestors. Our Nation’s young people still echo the call for equality, bringing attention to disparities that continue to plague our society in ways that mirror the non-violent tactics of the civil rights movement while adapting to modern times. Let us also not forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could make our voices heard by exercising our right to vote. Even in the face of legal challenges, every eligible voter should not take for granted what is our right to shape our democracy.

    We have made great progress on the journey toward ensuring our ideals ring true for all people. Today, African American high school graduation and college enrollment rates are at an all-time high. The African-American unemployment rate has been halved since its Great Recession peak. More than 2 million African Americans gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The incarceration rates for African-American men and women fell during each year of this Administration and are at their lowest points in over two decades. Yet challenges persist and obstacles still stand in the way of becoming the country envisioned at our founding, and we would do a disservice to all who came before us if we remained blind to the way past injustices shape the present. The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners — a disproportionate number of whom are African American — so we must find ways to reform our criminal justice system and ensure that it is fairer and more effective. While we’ve seen unemployment rates decrease, many communities, particularly those of color, continue to experience significant gaps in educational and employment opportunities, causing too many young men and women to feel like no matter how hard they try, they may never achieve their dreams.

    Our responsibility as citizens is to address the inequalities and injustices that linger, and we must secure our birthright freedoms for all people. As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2016 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


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