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Sen. Casey pushes for more technology graduates

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Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

The U.S. Senate soon could take up a bill to push states and schools to make computer science courses part of their core curricula.

The bill that Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, introduced would offer competitive grants to states and schools to beef up their high school computer science offerings. More than 140,000 computer science jobs become available each year, but fewer than 40,000 people graduate each year with bachelor's degrees in the subject, according to the Joint Economic Committee, a House-Senate committee.

"We're not getting enough young people involved in this course of study," Casey said during a rollout of the Computer Science Education Act at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, a public magnet school in Oakland. The Senate likely will debate the bill in coming weeks as lawmakers take up a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Casey said.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Google Inc. Vice President of Engineering Andrew Moore joined Casey at the event. Moore said the gap between job openings and qualified people to fill them "keeps me up at night."

Part of the problem is high schools aren't preparing graduates to move into computer science majors in college, Casey said. Many states don't have a certification process for high school computer science teachers, and the courses are treated as electives rather than core curriculum. He said the Pittsburgh school at which he spoke -- which focuses on high-tech computing and robotics courses -- could serve as a national model.

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