By Kayla Nick-Kearney
California legislators are reviewing a bill that would create an advisory board to integrate computer science into education.
The Assembly legislation would create a 23-person panel overseen by the state Superintendent that would deliver recommendations by September 2017 on how to improve computer science education, and establish curriculum standards for grades K-12.
The panel would comprise teachers, administrators and professors across K-12 and higher education, as well as representatives from government, parent associations and student advocacy organizations. The bill is backed by Microsoft and Code.org.
“We’ve been working on trying to develop a coordinated strategy so that California could respond to the increasing needs of industry,” Julie Flapan, executive director of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools, told EdScoop. “But, also, we wanted to make this vocational knowledge of computer science available to all kids so that they’re well prepared for their careers, and college, and civic participation.”
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After years of lagging behind Arkansas, West Virginia and several other states, California is expanding computer science in public schools across the state and training teachers to teach it.
Despite being the leader in technological innovation, the state currently provides no dedicated professional development funding for teachers in computer science, high schools are not required to offer computer science courses, and there are no computer science curriculum standards.
“It is somewhat surprising that California is not ahead in computer science, considering that is where Silicon Valley is,” said Amy Hirotaka, director of state government affairs of Code.org, a national nonprofit working to expand access to computer science and to increase participation by women and minorities.
Silicon Valley is known for launching new ideas with high intensity and on a massive scale. So it’s no surprise that with the support of the technology industry, computer science education is expanding at lightning speed.
But scaling up without a clear strategy could have unintended consequences. That’s why we’re calling on California to develop a comprehensive plan for computer science education across the state.
With support from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Bill 2329 would establish a diverse advisory panel to develop such a strategic plan. The bill is to be heard Friday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Computer science is not just about access to technology. It is about students learning critical thinking, collaboration and creative problem solving. These are 21st-century skills that prepare students for college, careers and civic participation, and they should be available to students of all backgrounds. Computer science helps prepare students for careers – not only in the tech industry, but in nearly every field.
By 2018, more than half of all science and technology jobs are projected to be in computer-science-related fields. Yet only one in four high schools offers computer science, and in many schools, girls and students of color are woefully underrepresented.
It seems like the perfect solution to a national crisis: At a time when the United States needs a million computer science graduates within the decade—and college costs are spiraling upward—a French telecom billionaire is about to open a state-of-the-art, tuition-free computer coding academy in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The innovative school, simply called 42, doesn’t care about secondary school grades or SAT scores and provides free dorms for up to 300 low-income students. Although it has a goal of educating 10,000 coders over the next five years, 42 won’t have faculty or a syllabus, but it will have classrooms stocked with the latest Apple computers.
For entrance to what seems like a programmer’s utopia, there’s just one qualification: Students have to compete in what’s been called a Hunger Games–style do-or-die competition against other prospective students and take intelligence tests “to make sure the brain works,” as tech entrepreneur Nicolas Sadirac, the school’s director, explained to the Chicago Tribune.
That is where the problems begin, according to critics.
By Michael Collier | EdSource
President Obama’s $4.1 trillion federal budget released Tuesday would give a major boost to computer science programs in K-12 school districts in California and across the nation, science advocates said.
As a prelude to his budget announcement, Obama sent his chief technology officer, Megan Smith, to Oakland’s Skyline High School on Monday to announce a $4 billion science initiative, known as Computer Science for All. Smith chose the Oakland district as the first district to visit because of its emphasis on computer science.
The goal of the effort is to provide students from all backgrounds the opportunity to work toward careers in computer science, with salaries that are 50 percent higher than the national average salary of about $55,000, according to 2014 U.S. Census figures.
By Katy Murphy and Sharon Noguchi Bay Area News Group
December 13, 2015 | Contra Costa Times
Claire Shorall, teacher and computer science manager for the Oakland Unified School District, helps some of her students on a coding exercise in their computer science class at Castlemont High School in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Shorall co-teaches the class with full-time teacher Mana Jabbour. The school district has dramatically expanded the computer science offerings this year. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
It’s the backbone of Silicon Valley’s world-changing tech industry, but — like journalism and geography — computer science is considered just another high school elective by the University of California.
Now, a powerful coalition of technology leaders, state politicians and high school teachers has taken aim at the university’s influential set of high school courses required for admission, pressuring UC to count computer science as advanced math, alongside calculus and statistics.
They say elevating computer science would encourage more California high schools to offer it — and more students to sign up, preparing them to enter fields with few women and minorities.