|4:28 PM EDT||
Vernon J. Ehlers, R-MI 3rd
Mr. EHLERS. I thank the gentleman for yielding. First of all, I will say that I do support the arts. In fact, in a town meeting once, I was attacked by one of my constituents for my support of the arts. He objected to the amount of money that I had voted for for the National Endowment for the Arts.
I told him that I hated to take up too much time in my town meeting defending myself on that issue, and I would appreciate very much if he would write me a letter and send it to me with his reasons for why he felt that way. Then I added to that, I told him if you do in fact write me a letter, the amount you pay for the paper, the envelope, and the stamp will exceed the total amount that you have paid toward the National Endowment for the Arts. It was a simple calculation. I see my fellow physicist
smiling because that is the sort of thing he would do, too. I calculated the per capita cost of the National Endowment for the Arts, and, indeed, it was less than the cost of the paper, envelope, and stamp.
The audience laughed. I don't think the person who asked the question was laughing very much, but he took it in good spirit.
What I want to do is to make some comments about the previous resolution which was passed, which is something I submitted last year and again this year. I think it is important to emphasize it because we are losing the computer science battle among the nations of the world. I did not realize the extent of that until one of my constituents at Calvin College--literally in my backyard--Dr. Joel Adams, met with me. He explained what was happening nationally with the enrollments in computer science,
and they were alarmingly low.
So last year, for the first time, we established a day of recognition for computer science and to honor the birthday of Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first female computer scientists. This will mark the second annual celebration of this important week.
Computer technology and the innovations it yields are transforming our world and are critical to the global competitiveness of our economy. Not only that, they are very important in developing the science of cyberwarfare, on which we are trying to get up to speed, but we are not preparing an adequate and diverse workforce to meet the ever-growing demand for the information technology sector, which includes some of the country's most innovative and successful companies.
While it is very important that students in K-12 are exposed to computer science, many do not get a chance to learn about it in schools today. The lack of understanding of computer science and how it fuels innovation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines contribute to a lack of interest in computing careers, especially among women and underrepresented minorities, whose participation rates in computer science are among the lowest of any scientific field. By introducing
students to computer science at an early age and by providing them with learning experiences in computer science at all levels, we can reverse this trend and can expand and diversify our technology workforce.
I am very pleased that Congressman Polis joined me in introducing this resolution. Also, I thank Cameron Wilson from the Association for Computing Machinery, and I thank Joel Adams with the Department of Computer Science at Calvin College for their efforts in raising awareness about the importance of computer science education. In addition, I thank Julia Jester, formerly of my staff, for her help in drafting and introducing this resolution, as well as for her dedicated service as the
staff director of the STEM Education Caucus.
I ask all of my colleagues to join in supporting the designation of the second annual National Computer Science Education Week to raise awareness about these important issues.
Once again, I thank Congressman Todd Platts for giving me the time to insert extraneous material on this particular topic of the arts.