U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited Code Platoon’s headquarters on Friday to learn more about the coding bootcamp for veterans and military spouses.
Code Platoon’s students, who are a week away from graduation, presented Durbin with an iteration of their capstone project — a web app that allows users to submit and vote on pet submissions much like the NCAA March Madness brackets. The final project is a tangible product that students can use to market their newly-acquired skills to potential employers. The program connects students with local tech companies to help them network and aid them in their job search.
“One of the key tenets of our program is that we work by, with, and through the Chicago tech community to support ourselves,” said Rod Levy, Founder and Executive Director of Code Platoon. “They support us financially and they support us by providing internships for our students once they have completed the program.”
Code Platoon is a Chicago-based 501(c)3 non-profit that helps veterans and military spouses transition into the civilian workforce by providing technical training and career placement. For 14 weeks, students are immersed in a web development program, learning Ruby, Python, SQL and a number of other marketable coding languages. Upon completing the program veterans and military spouses will be eligible for internships at local tech companies, which could lead to a full-time job.
Durbin added that military veterans and active servicemembers often struggle in their pursuit of higher education, including in deciding on what institutions turn to for continuing education.
They don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do and they tend to respond to the most advertising. And they go to [places like] the American Military University. My nephew went to the American Military University and I said to him, ‘Mike, what are you doing? You live in Maryland. The University of Maryland offers courses, why don’t you take that and you can transfer the hours back. The American Military Academy – nobody will know what you’re talking about.’
So these for-profit schools are right in the middle of this and sucking out all of the G.I. benefits that you all worked to earn and they’re supposed to give you a chance in life.
The Federal Communications Commission was fresh off the vote to end net neutrality when Durbin visited the Code Platoon offices. During a Q&A with the students and Code Platoon staff, the lawmaker was asked about his take on the agency’s 3-2 vote to repeal two-year-old regulations aimed at ensuring equal internet access by outlawing fast lanes, throttling, and website and app blocking.
“This was a disastrous decision by the federal communications commission,” said Durbin. He followed his answer by explaining his perspective on the FCC’s monumental decision.
“Their elimination of net neutrality means customers and consumers all across America will start having to pay for things that are free today, and they’ll have to start bargaining with some provider who is going to say, ‘for a certain amount of money, you’ll get faster service. For a certain amount of money, you’ll have access to X-Y-Z.’ All of these things restrict our freedom and access to the internet. I think it was a terrible decision.”