Coinciding with Computer Science Education Week (December 4–10), the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) and the Placer County Office of Education (PCOE) are announcing support for a new campaign to make computer science education available to all students in California by 2025.
At a kickoff event at San Mateo Community College this week, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the creation of CSforCA (Computer Science for California). The project aims to highlight the value of computer science education and encourage the development of statewide science education policy.
The Kapor Center, a nonprofit organization working to increase racial and gender diversity in the technology field, reports that less than 5 percent of California’s 2 million high school students are enrolled in any computing courses, and more than half of California’s public high schools offer no computer science courses at all.
“Computer science is a very important field of study because it revolves around problem solving, and that is an indispensable life skill. Computing also offers many types of lucrative careers with opportunities for creativity and innovation,” said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. Placer County Superintendent of Schools, Gayle Garbolino-Mojica echoed those sentiments, adding, “We are excited to support the efforts of this campaign to ensure that our students are employable in our regional workforce because of opportunities they will receive during their K–12 public education.”
According to Code.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science, by 2020, there will be nearly 1.4 million computing job openings in the U.S. Many students across California, however, lack the opportunity to take computer science courses.
With the passage of recent legislation supported by Governor Brown, California is on its way to developing statewide computer science standards. An advisory panel will develop a strategic plan for implementation of computer science education across the state.
“Increasing access and equity to high-quality computer science education in California will ensure that all students, including girls, low-income students, and students of color will have access to these fundamental learning opportunities,” said Julie Flapan, Executive Director of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools, which serves as the backbone for the CSforCA campaign.
A number of school districts in California—including many in Sacramento and Placer counties—have led the charge to increase access and equity to computer science. In the Sacramento region, efforts to grow computer science course offerings began in 2013. As a part of a California Career Pathways Trust grant, SCOE and PCOE have provided training and support to teachers interested in teaching computer science. Since 2013, high school introductory computer science course offerings have increased 760% in the greater Sacramento area.
CSforCA and CSforSAC
CSforCA is a project of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), a statewide multi-stakeholder coalition. ACCESS advocates for high-quality K–12 computer science education in California, ensuring it is accessible to all students, including those who are traditionally underrepresented: girls, low-income students, and students of color. ACCESS is housed at the UCLA Center X Computer Science Project. CSforSAC, a network of educators from six counties in the Sacramento region, will provide professional development to teachers, administrators, and counselors in conjunction with CSforCA.