Want To Get Girls And Minorities Into Coding? Stop Making Computer Science An Elective

By Jessica Leber, FastCo.Exist

White males are most likely to take computer science classes in high school because they have mostly white male role models to look up to. Maybe it’s time to start giving incentives for everyone to take the subject.

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[Image: Schoolgirls via Shutterstock]

With this week’s star-studded “Hour of Code” and Computer Science Education Week, hundreds of thousands of schools around the country are introducing children to computer science and working to get them interested in a field that is almost guaranteed to be in high demand when they hit the job market.

But there’s just one snag: Computer science may not help them graduate high school and or even help them meet the minimum requirements established to attend public colleges and universities in tech-centric states like California. Neither a core math or science subject officially, computer science falls in an awkward middle ground that has kept it an “elective” at the high school level in most states.
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Hundreds of Teens Attend Computer Science Education Day at Cal

By Theresa Harrington, Contra Costa Times (CA)

BERKELEY — Hundreds of high school students from throughout the Bay Area got firsthand practice programming computers during UC Berkeley’s annual Computer Science Education Day on Tuesday, and just maybe, they’ll be inspired to major in computer science.

CAL COMPUTER SCIENCE DAY/METRO

(Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

“We are a new generation and we all use computers for basically everything,” said Brandon Ye, a 16-year-old junior at California High in San Ramon, after learning the Snap visual, drag-and-drop programming language. “This could give us a new understanding. Like, when you post something on Facebook, why does it show up like that? It feels empowering.”
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Technology training key to innovation

By Debra J. Richardson and Julie Flapan, Orange County Register

Have you ever seen a toddler with a smartphone swiping their little fingers across the screen as if they were born knowing exactly how to use it? Or heard a teenager’s quip: “There’s an app for that”? As these cyber-native kids mature, they will require far less instruction on how to use technology and more education that prepares them to be the creators of it.

Computers are everywhere – in our pockets, on our TV screens, in our cars, in the movies. They’re a critical piece of our infrastructure from power grids to financial markets. And all of these computers have one thing in common: they depend on software to tell them what to do.

But who is writing this software and who is creating new technologies?

Considering how fast our world is being transformed by technology, you might expect the number of students studying computer science in K-12 education today to be at an all time high. That is not the case. Fewer students are studying computer science, and fewer schools are teaching it, than a decade ago. The problem begins in our middle and high schools. Last year in Orange County, Advanced Placement Computer Science was offered at only 15 of 69 public high schools.
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UCLA, Code.org, LAUSD, and SiliconBeachLA Kick Off “Hour of Code” in Los Angeles

By Kathy Wyer, Ampersand

Key Los Angeles stakeholders come together
in support of computer science education
to prepare students for 21st Century job market.

UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the nonprofit Code.org collectively launched the Los Angeles segment of National Computer Science Education Week at the UCLA Community School on Dec. 10 at the Paul Schrade Library at UCLA Community School, with local and state lawmakers, and industry leaders from Microsoft, Apple, Google and other Los Angeles–based technology companies in attendance.

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GSE&IS Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco watches UCLA Community Students as they learn to code.

GSE&IS Dean Marcelo Súarez-Orozco kicked off the event, with speakers Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, senior policy advisor and director of education and workforce development for the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti; California Assemblyman Ed Chau (49th Dist.), Gerardo Loera, executive director of curriculum and instruction for LAUSD; Jane Margolis, senior researcher at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies; author of “Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing,” and James Gwertzman, chief evangelist at Code.org.
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UCLA, LAUSD Help Kick Off National Computer Science Education Week

By Stephanie Simmons, KCal9 News (CA)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council has officially declared this week Computer Science Education Week.

The University of California Los Angeles, the mayor’s office, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nonprofit Code.org and several other groups kicked off the week Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the UCLA Community School.

The event highlighted the “Hour of Code” campaign, which gives K-12 students a one-hour lesson to demystify computer programming – or coding – and demonstrate how anyone can create innovative computer programs.

Reportedly, only 10 percent of schools nationwide offer computer science programs.
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Teachers start 25 state petitions to add computer science to grad requirements (VentureBeat Article)

By John Koetsier, VentureBeat

Only 14 states in the U.S. currently permit tough computer science courses to count toward graduation requirements for math and science. Meanwhile, some surveys say that 570,000 jobs are going unfilled in computing — and that the demand for software engineers is four times higher than the national average.

Image Credit: CyberHades

Image Credit: CyberHades

Teachers are working to change that. According to Change.org, there are currently more than 25 petitions around the country to ask state and education officials to “make computer science count” for graduation — and for college admission. One, in California, currently has 5,364 supporters and needs 636 more to reach its goal [now 7,500 supporters with an increased goal of 10,000].
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