Computer science is everywhere, and its prominence is growing as our economy depends more and more on technology. Computers and technology are, by all measures, booming industries whose influence will only increase in the years to come.
So you may wonder, if computer science is at the heart of all this growth and progress in our economy, why do we still need to advocate for it to be taught in our public schools?
Why do we need to advocate?
Because although computer science jobs are growing at twice the national average, schools have yet to recognize CS as a core subject. Shockingly, Code.org predicts there will be 1 million more jobs than computer science students in 2020.
Here are some more surprising facts:
- Nine out of ten schools don’t offer computer programming classes at all.
- No students in Wyoming took the AP computer science exam in 2013.
- Only 27 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation.
- There are currently 604,689 open computing jobs nationwide. Last year, only 38,175 computer science students graduated into the workforce.
What's the latest news from Capitol Hill and beyond?
There is GREAT news breaking from the federal government this month. Long story short, on 12/2/15, the House passed a bill (359-64) that, among other things, now recognizes computer science as a core subject. The bill makes updates to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a document which schools across the country consult when deciding what to teach. By listing CS as a core subject, schools will now be more inclined to place appropriate emphasis on this discipline moving forward. An added bonus? The bill also provides funding for CS professional development. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the matter this week, after which the White House is expected to sign off by the end of the year. So, stay tuned! (Update 12/10/15: the bill was approved and moved to the President's desk!)
There is also great news at the state and district level as several states begin to lead the way in CS education. Here's how a few trailblazing states are proving to be excellent models as others begin to follow suit.
- Arkansas. Leading the charge, Arkansas was the first state to pass a comprehensive law mandating CS education in public schools. And it's worked! "As Code.org notes, "Arkansas has seen a 260% increase in total CS enrollment, a 300% increase among females, and a 600% increase among African American females." Arkansas plans to release their K-12 standards for CS in early 2016.
- New York City. The city plans to invest $81M in CS education over the next 10 years.
- Georgia. The state has established CS K-12 standards and allocates funds for CS professional development.
- Washington. Washington passed a bill in July 2015 to establish K-12 computer science standards and create a computer science teaching endorsement.
- Texas. Last year, the state voted to require schools to offer at least 2 CS courses at the high school level.
How can YOU help?
So how can you help advocate for computer science?
- Read up on why it's important to make computer science fundamental to K-12 education.
- Look at Code.org's fact sheet for your state.
- Take action!
- Sign Code.org's petition that states, "Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science."
- Know another language? Help translate Code.org tutorials.
- Donate to Code.org, or buy Code.org swag.
- Write a letter to your local principals. Here's a template!
- Speak at a local meeting. Code.org has already prepared your slides.
- Promote CSEdWeek and the Hour of Code.
- Or, event better, host an Hour of Code.
- Keep up the momentum. We hear a lot about CS education during CSEdWeek, but keep up the conversation throughout the year.