"College and career ready" ... this ubiquitous statement has been barraging the ears of educators throughout the U.S. education landscape since the widespread adoption of the Common Core Standards. It is an idea that, in its foundation, I agree with, along with raising the bar and rigor for our students. That being said, there are significant holes we are failing to reconcile regarding the "career and job landscape" that is ahead for our students.
The gaping hole left out of student learning? Computer science. Even with the ever-growing job landscape in IT, programming, software engineering, and data systems, the world of education still treats computer science as a second tier science. The "traditional" sciences, such as chemistry and biology, are mandated by most states, but lack the job opportunities that would allow students to actually utilize the learned content.
In recent projections, by 2020, there will be $20 billion in open jobs and salary in the computer sciences that will go unfilled and unclaimed by the American educated job force. Programming is offered in only 10% of American schools, and in 41 out of 50 states, computer science is not considered a math or science course, but rather an elective comparable to woodshop.
We may be attempting to get our students "college and career ready" but I must ask, what careers are we readying them for?
Yes, many students will not head into the computer science field, but are we handcuffing every student that might? Are we closing the door for them before even providing the opportunity to explore the possibilities? In most instances, it seems so. There are school districts out there taking it upon themselves to push for increased course offerings in this field, and to them I say, kudos! But until there are large-scale changes in national and state education policies regarding computer science, we are never going to see the outcomes and student opportunities we are looking for.
I write this as an educator with an optimistic outlook for the route education is taking. There are many great teachers out there trying to embrace increased STEM education initiatives, provide opportunities for programming and coding, and attempting to build in technology education as often as possible. Whether it is the use of basic iPad apps like Kodable or Cargo Bot, which facilitate a very basic understanding of sequencing, logic, and coding via games to elementary-aged students, or a course offering in Java to high school seniors, both schools and educators need to a find a way to increase the prevalence of computer science in our schools.
Looking for more information and resources? Check out the Computing In The Core website.
Photo: Flickr | Paul Heaberlin
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