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Expand Access to Computer Science

States must act immediately to ensure every K-12 student has access to computer science education, wrote more than 500 top business, non-business, and education leaders in a July 12 letter. of governors and leading education officials in all 50 states.

The signatories include technology giants Amazon, Microsoft, and Google parent company Alphabet as well as companies primarily working in other sectors of the economy, such as American Express, AT&T, Delta Airlines, Hasbro, Nike , Starbucks, UPS, and Walgreens. The letter also garnered signatures from educational organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers and the nonprofit Khan Academy.

“Every student should learn computer science in the classroom,” Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said in a statement. “When I was younger, I didn’t see myself as someone who could work in tech, but I took a computer science class in college, and it changed the course of my career. I believe all students should have the opportunity to explore how computer science has impacted their lives.

It’s a big deal that so many major businesses don’t think that technology companies support the goal of expanding computer science education, said Hadi Partovi, CEO of , in an interview.

“It helps people realize that it’s about every industry, that every company has become a technology company and every company suffers from the lack of preparation that our schools provide to our students,” he said. niya.

All 50 states have taken some action to expand access to computer science, a sign that the move has bipartisan support, according to the letter. But so far, just over half of the states — 27 — have adopted a policy to give all high school students access to computer science courses. Of these, only a dozen are trying to provide for all K-12 students, according to

Currently, only 5 percent of high school students study computer science, the letter says. And only a small majority of high schools — 51 percent — offer subject classes. That’s despite the high demand for computer science skills. Currently there are about 700,000 open computing jobs, and only about 80,000 computer science graduates per year.

Schools could be in a better position than ever to expand their offerings in computer science, the letter argues.

For one thing, K-12 students are more likely to have access to a laptop or tablet provided by the district. During the pandemic, the number of middle and high school students in 1-to-1 computer programs increased by 90 percent, from nearly two-thirds before the pandemic, according to an April 2021 survey. Education Week Research Center cited in the letter.
“As schools reopen, we will use laptops to teach computer science,” the letter says.

In addition, due to the rise in remote employment opportunities, rural students will no longer have to leave their hometown to get high -paying technology jobs once they graduate from high school or college. . Today, “even the smallest town can be a tech hub; the key is education, ”the letter said.

Leading companies list computer science among the skills they want to see focused on K-12 schools, according to a story at Education Week earlier this year.. But they also emphasize so-called soft skills, such as the ability to work together as part of a team, and interpersonal communication, and resilience.

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