$200 million a year for Computer Science

Today, the White House announced a $200 million per year commitment to computer science education in America’s schools. Unlike similar proposals in previous years, today’s action delivers funding to schools, immediately. Besides expanding access to computer science in schools that previously didn’t teach it, the funds promise to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities. This funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education. For advocates of increased access and diversity in CS, this is the culmination of years of momentum that began in classrooms, spread to entire school districts, and won the support of business leaders and elected officials globally. At a time when computing careers are the best-paying, fastest-growing, and largest sector of new wages, impacting every industry in every state, it is no longer acceptable for our schools to limit access to this foundational subject. Our children deserve a level playing field — the opportunity to learn computer science shouldn’t be limited by the color of a student’s skin or the neighborhood she lives in. The UK, Japan, Ireland, and a dozen other countries have announced plans to add computer science to their school curriculum. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to lag behind. The country that invented the personal computer, the Internet, and the smartphone should also lead in computer science. And today, America leads in computer science, thanks to countless supporters of this cause, starting with you: parents, students, and teachers, as well as partner organizations and local governments. Whether you signed a petition on Code.org or used our courses in your classroom, you’ve helped build a grassroots movement that is changing education, globally. The division in our country hurts us all. Amidst the politics, America’s students represent our hope. We all want opportunity for our children, and there’s no better way to offer them opportunity than to prepare them for the careers of the future. This movement has supporters across the political spectrum, whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities. 90% of parents support computer science in schools. Americans may be divided by our politics, but we’re united by our dedication to our children. We all believe in opportunity and the American Dream. Code.org has never endorsed any candidate, politician, or political party. We’ve worked closely with presidents and governors from both parties, and with international prime ministers, to advocate for opportunity. Like many others, we’re appalled by the divisiveness in today’s politics, at a time when we need collaborative solutions to the world’s problems. Given our education focus, we’re dismayed by proposed cuts to education budgets. And given our mission and focus on diversity, we unequivocally denounce the tone of racism that has entered the political sphere. Today we have a chance to set aside politics and come together, to support opportunity for all our youth, and to build our nation’s future. For those of us who have spent years working to spread computer science, today’s announcement marks a new beginning — it’s a new opportunity for every school to expand its computer science offerings. This work is only just beginning, and the job won’t be done until every state and school district in America steps up to teach high-quality computer science. To the 600,000 Code.org teachers who have helped make computer science the fastest-spreading subject in modern education, I want to thank you for your passion. And I encourage every educator to consider joining the computer science movement. Your students are our future. Whether you teach your students to add and subtract, to read and write, or to code, yours is the most important job in the world. Today marks a special moment for every parent, student, teacher, or partner organization who believes in our mission, that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science. To all of you who have supported Code.org, today’s announcement is about something bigger than any politician or political agenda: it’s about our children and their future, and it’s about you, and the strength of our global movement for students. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Hadi Partovi, Code.org (read the original here)


Girls Who Code: Why I Code – The Daily Beast

For eight weeks this summer, a group of high-school girls brought together by the innovative program Girls Who Code gathered at the headquarters of IAC, the parent company of Newsweek/The Daily Beast, to learn computer programming and bridge the gender gap in the STEM fields. Here, they share their stories about how they gained the confidence to conquer the tech industry. “I have learned a tremendous amount in the eight short weeks that I have been a participant. I have learned how to code in JavaScript, Python, C, CSS, JQuery, and HTML. My high school, an all-girls Catholic school, does not offer any Computer Science classes; as a result, GWC has introduced me to a new world I would have never learned about otherwise. In addition, I have been able to connect and realize the similarities I have with these other young women who are hungry, and eager to learn, and who also hope to close the gender gap in CS… I think it is important to address the gender gap in CS because it is a real problem that begins at a young age, and is crucial to fix. A few things that I believe will help with the gender imbalance in CS would be to expose more young women in CS. Implementing courses in Computer Science to girls from ninth to twelfth grades will make it easier for young women to be exposed to CS. Instead of relying upon a program limited to the summer months, it should be throughout the school year, and either after school or on weekends. I am excited to take all that I have learned at GWC and take the first step to exposing other girls in my high school to CS, and start a Robotics/CS Club. Hopefully, this will be the first step to having a CS class in my high school later on down the line. Until then, I hope to spread the word of GWC, one girl at a time.” Read more at Girls Who Code: Why I Code – The Daily Beast.

Education Week: Computer Programming Goes Back to School

Learning programming introduces students to solving problems, designing applications, and making connections online.We are witnessing a remarkable comeback of computer programming in schools. In the 1980s, many schools featured Basic, Logo, or Pascal programming computer labs that students typically visited once a week as an introduction to the discipline. But, by the mid-1990s, schools had largely turned away from programming. In large part, such decline stemmed from a lack of subject-matter integration and a dearth of qualified instructors. Yet there was also the question of purpose. With the rise of preassembled multimedia packages via glossy CD-ROMs over the 1990s, who wanted to toil over syntax typos and debugging problems by creating these applications oneself? This question alone seemingly negated the need to learn programming in school, compounded by the excitement generated by the Internet. Schools started teaching students how to best surf the web rather than how to delve into it and understand how it actually works. Schools largely forgot about programming, some deeming it entirely unnecessary and others labeling it too difficult to teach and learn.But this is changing. In the past five years, we’ve seen a new-found interest in bringing back learning and teaching programming on all K-12 levels. But it’s digitally based youth cultures, not schools, leading this revival Kafai & Peppler, 2011. Computers seem to be accessible everywhere, particularly outside school, where children and youth are innovating with technology — often with hand-held devices — to create their own video games, interactive art projects, and even their own programmable clothes through electronic textiles. What’s more, the same computers on which they create these items connect them to wider networks of other young users who share common interests and a similar commitment to connecting through making. See more at Education Week: Computer Programming Goes Back to School.