Did you hear the news? Just weeks after President Obama announced his plan to provide computer science (CS) education for all students, the Chicago Public Schools pronounced that, starting with this fall’s class of 202, all high school students need to fulfill a CS requirement in order to graduate.
The move on behalf of the CPS school board is hardly reactionary, though. Indeed a relatively small number of educators, CPS officials, companies like Google and Code.org and the mayor’s office have been working for years to lay the groundwork to make this happen.
CPS Computer Science for All
The Chicago Public Schools #CS4All initiative involves more than a high school graduation requirement. It’s a hands-on student centered curriculum that begins in the early grades and continues on. And it’s more exciting than the CS class you might recall from your youth (if your school even offered CS).
The initiative seeks to provide all CPS students with high quality computer science instruction. On a related note, Illinois State University is offering a Teacher Education in Computer Science (TECS) curriculum that will provide teachers with an endorsement in middle or high school computer science education. They promise that no prior programming experience is needed to enter and succeed in the 16-18 credit program.
CS for All is seen as the best chance to welcome underrepresented groups such as girls, students from under-represented minorities, and students from low-income backgrounds into the technology fold.
According to a Google-Gallup research study on the landscape of the U.S. K-12 CS education scene, 91% of parents want their child to learn CS, but only 30% of educators say it is a top priority and only 1 in four principals say programming classes are available at school. The students most likely to have resources and taken advantage of them tend not to be Black, Hispanic and low-income.
I’m sure there are more than a few kinks to work out to put this in place for the fall. Resources in the form of money, hardware and people power to help in classrooms or beyond (such as a grant writer) are needed. If you want to help the bold vision come to fruition, you can donate here. (I know it’s like holding a bake sale in the name of educational equity. Sigh.) But if your pockets are looking as bare as our state coffers, contact your congressional representative and senators to makes sure some of the federal dollars that Obama recently promised land close to home.
Click to learn other ways you might be able to get involved.