It is an unfortunate reality that many students in the United States perceive computer programmers and software engineers as geniuses who can learn special skills that aren’t accessible to the rest of us. This is simply not true. But the fact is, most K-12 schools nationwide don’t offer computer science. While students learn the basics of how electricity works, or how to do long division, or how to structure an essay in our schools, exposure to computer science remains available to only a privileged few.
As technology is transforming every single aspect of our lives, it’s foundational for students in public schools to understand the basics of how the Internet works, what a computer virus is or how to build an app. It’s time we catch up to 2015 and give every student the opportunity to lead in 21st-century careers.
Code.org and our partners at the Idaho Technology Council are working to break stereotypes around computer science and encourage more students of all backgrounds to take interest in the field. We are committed to bringing computer science into classrooms at all levels, kindergarten through high school.
Many Idaho educators and tech employers are excited about the potential for this new curriculum in K-12 education. Over 300,000 Idaho students participated in an Hour of Code in December, joining in the worldwide campaign to spark interest in learning to code, at least for a first hour.
Next week’s develop.idaho conference will, in part, showcase this critical development in Idaho. The conference will help to increase awareness of computer science education in Idaho and demonstrate how education can strengthen the state’s economy as well as improve the lives of Idahoans. Code.org is excited to be a part of it. You can learn more about develop.idaho at www.developidaho.org.
It is Code.org’s ultimate goal that every school in America should have the ability to offer computer science courses so every American student can have the opportunity to pursue computer science if they so desire. With that goal in mind, Code.org has partnered with over 100 companies, organizations and individuals to develop free, open-source curriculum, train teachers and help states support computer science.
Idaho is playing a critical role in our efforts to disseminate CS educational programs across populations urban and rural alike.
There are currently 1,607 open computing jobs across Idaho, and these jobs are growing at 2.8 times the state average. In the last year, Idaho’s legislature joined 24 other U.S. states to allow high school computer science courses to count toward graduation requirements where they were previously just electives. But still, few K-12 schools offer computer science. The state graduates only 300 students with university degrees in computer science each year, leading many of the fastest-growing local companies to recruit employees from outside the state.
Increasing the talent pipeline is something that Code.org is committed to seeing through in all states, including Idaho. It would mean that more students in Idaho will receive an education that businesses in all industries are looking for. We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of Idaho’s elected officials and educators in laying groundwork for future success.
We hope to see more progress to come, not just for students who choose to study computer science in college but for all students in today’s economy, whether they go into science, business, politics, medicine, education or the arts. It will help foster opportunities right here for the next generation of Idaho’s leaders.