Statement from Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein on President Obama’s Computer Science Announcement from the State of the Union Address
Tonight, in his seventh State of the Union address, President Obama said that we must offer “every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”
“This was a tremendously forward-thinking statement from President Obama,” said Mitch Kapor, Partner at Kapor Capital, an Oakland-based venture capital firm. “Only a small percentage of public schools offer computer science education, and they tend to be located in wealthier districts with very few students of color. Expanding access to computer science education has the potential not only to lift our economy, but to bring thousands of young people from underrepresented backgrounds out of poverty by providing them the skills to pursue well-paying careers.”
“Virtually every company is becoming a tech company,” said Freada Kapor Klein, Founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and Partner at Kapor Capital. “In an age when tractors come loaded with sophisticated software and paper companies rely on complex computerized distribution networks, Computer Science has long since ceased to be a niche skill set. It’s a must have for our schools, not a nice-to-have.”
“Here in Oakland, we believe we’ve got the right mix of diversity, tech investment, public school involvement and community engagement to get this right. We’re working to make Oakland a model of how Computer Science education can reach everyone, regardless of zip code,” concluded Kapor Klein.
Last May, the Level Playing Field Institute released a report, Path Not Found: Disparities in Access to Computer Science Courses in California High Schools, that showed, among other findings, that nearly 75% of California schools with the highest percentage of underrepresented students of color offer no computer science courses at all. You can read an overview of the findings and download the full report here.
Based in Oakland, California, Kapor Capital invests in seed stage tech startups that generate both economic returns and positive social impact. We believe diversity in tech is a strategic priority to the industry.
Level Playing Field Institute is committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fostering their untapped talent for the advancement of our nation.