We all know that today’s economy is becoming more digital by the day, and I would argue that computer science is the new literacy. While there is a lot of talk about the importance of computer programming and coding, there is less action — and funding — to support it adequately.
After-school classes, out-of-school museum programs and elective computer science programs are great but not enough; these don’t serve all students and often require parents or care takers with financial means and the ability to bring children to these activities. If computer science education is any citizen’s right then it should not be treated like a privilege. We must ensure that this new literacy receives investment–in terms of time, resources, cultural contexts and teacher development–on the level of traditional literacy.
In order to ensure that all 55 million young citizens have access to computer science education in the nation’s 130,000 K-12 public schools, where they spent at least 8-10 hours each day, we must consider it a core piece of curriculum. Here are a few ways to start:
1. Make computer science education mandatory in all K-12 schools. Do this across the country and incorporate it into subjects already being taught–from Spanish to Chemistry to Math. If reading, writing and arithmetic were not mandatory parts of curriculum across the country, it would seem absurd! Depriving students access to knowledge that provides the foundation needed to achieve academic, civic and professional success is wrong and unjust.
Computer science, which teaches us key learning and thinking skills and cultivates an innovative mindset, must be taught to all students. It is how we give them a fighting chance at success. While federal programs like Computer Science for All are beginning to make great strides, more must be done. Let’s not miss another generation. School administrators and teachers should look this summer into programs that fit into current curriculum, so all students are able to learn these important skills during the 2016-17 school year.