How The Dearth Of Technology Education Is Turning Around In Public Schools

Written by April Glaser

At Facebook and Google, just 1 percent of tech employees are black, and 17-to-19 percent are women, Recode reported.

Facebook has blamed a lack of available talent on the “pipeline” problem — not enough diverse candidates entering the tech industry.

However, there have been multiple reports that there are more black and Latino computer science engineers entering the workforce than are being hired by tech companies. Those reports often focus on universities.

What about the K-12 school system?

Only seven states in the U.S. have standards for computer science in K-12 education, according to data from the nonprofit Code.org, and only 32 states allow computer science to count toward high school graduation — otherwise it’s an elective, Recode reported.

Silicon Valley is the leading high tech region in the world. Major corporations in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and surrounding cities help make the region second in the U.S. for concentration of Fortune 500 companies.

In 2015, just three public high schools in Oakland offered computer science courses. This school year, 14 do, out of 17 high schools district-wide.

By comparison, all public high schools in Miami offer computer science education courses.

From Recode. Story by April Glaser

Computer science education in public high schools across the country is rare, particularly in areas with high minority populations. But in Oakland, one of the most diverse cities in the country, that’s changing.

In 2015, only three public high schools in Oakland offered computer science courses. But this school year, 14 do, out of 17 high schools district-wide.

There are now 2,853 Oakland public high school students enrolled in computer science, up more than three times from the 685 that were enrolled in it during the previous school year.

Only seven states across the country have standards for computer science in K-12 education.
For comparison, 10 of the 14 public high schools in San Francisco now offer computer science courses. (Though the cosmopolitan city just north of Silicon Valley has seen its overall public high school enrollment shrink after the late-1990s tech boom, as many of San Francisco’s wealthy residents opted to send their kids to private schools.)

Statewide in California, only 35 percent of high schools offer any computer science courses, according to data from the Level Playing Field Institute.

Computer science education is also expanding across the country. Chicago offers computer science at approximately 65 of its 106 public high schools. In Los Angeles, of the city’s 97 public high schools, 74 currently offer computer science courses. In Miami, all public high schools offer the courses, and in Washington, D.C., 10 of its 16 public high schools do. The data was compiled by the school districts for Recode.

Private money, public education

The computer science expansion at Oakland high schools was funded in part by a $5 million grant from Intel to grow the programs over the next five years. By 2018, the district plans for every public high school in Oakland to offer computer engineering courses. Now that it is part of Oakland’s core academic requirements, every freshman is required to take computer science if it’s offered at their school.

But nationwide, only seven states have standards for computer science in K-12 education, according to data from the nonprofit Code.org, and only 32 states allow computer science to count toward high school graduation — otherwise it’s an elective.

“Hundreds of students across the district will now be creating applications and hardware projects, like robotics or websites,” said Claire Shorall, who teaches calculus and computer science at Castlemont High School in Oakland and spearheaded the school district’s computer science expansion. “I think what we’re going to see are ideas that haven’t yet entered the market, because students from diverse backgrounds will create things we haven’t seen before.”

Read more at Recode.

 

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