SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, at an event hosted by Code.org to kick off Computer Science Education Week, 8 states, 76 school districts, and 102 organizations worldwide made new pledges to expand access to computer science for millions of students, focusing on diversity. Today's news was announced and celebrated by some of the most powerful women in technology, including Melinda Gates, Peggy Johnson of Microsoft, Sheryl Sandberg, and Susan Wojcicki, as well as Governors Steve Bullock of Montana, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom of California.
Code.org also announced a new milestone of 10 million girls with student accounts on its learning platform and $12 million in new philanthropic funding from donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Infosys Foundation USA, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Impacting every industry, computer science is essential to education in the 21st century. A priority with rare bipartisan backing, computer science in schools is also supported by 90% of parents. Yet most schools don't offer it, leaving most students without access, and females and students of color are greatly underrepresented in the field. Female students constitute only 18% of university computer science graduates in the US.
Fortunately, awareness of the need for computer science education and equitable access is increasing, and the global movement continues to grow. The Hour of Code campaign has reached 10% of all students globally, and the Code.org platform now has over 22 million student accounts, of which over 10 million are girls. One percent of the girls active on Code.org last year in the US would make up the difference in the computer science gender gap at US universities.
Pledging to bring computer science into schools
While over half the schools in the US don't currently offer a single course that teaches computer science, at today's event, states and school districts made pledges and announcements to address this issue in their own schools. Other organizations made additional pledges to accelerate the progress of changing this educational landscape. And to reflect the global momentum behind computer science in schools, 20 countries and global partners made similar commitments.
A full list of pledges is detailed in a separate document. Highlights include:
- Florida Governor Rick Scott pledged a one-time $15 million investment to expand opportunities for middle and high school students to learn coding and computer science.
- Arkansas pledged $500,000.00 towards the creation of a first-of-its-kind computer science stipend program specifically for K-8 teachers.
- California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of Computer Science for California, a new campaign to make computer science education available to all California students by 2025, which already includes commitments from 20 districts to offer computer science at all of their comprehensive high schools, reaching over 1.1 million students.
- Governor Kay Ivey (AL), Governor Steve Bullock (MT), Governor Tom Wolf (PA), and Governor Eric Holcomb (IN) announced today that each will join the Governors Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, thus committing to working toward developing rigorous K-12 computer science standards, funding professional learning for K-12 computer science teachers, and putting computer science in every high school in the state.
- The Hawaii State Department of Education will collaborate with key stakeholders to review K-12 computer science standards and expand computer science learning opportunities.
- 76 urban, suburban, and rural school districts have pledged to expand access and diversity in computer science including pledges by the Austin TX, Boston MA, Compton CA, Fresno CA, Houston TX, Lincoln NE, Los Angeles CA, and Riverside CA school districts to offer computer science in every high school.
- Over 80 nonprofits and universities have pledged to prepare over 4,500 teachers to begin teaching computer science to over 200,000 students in U.S. middle and high schools.
- Ecuador launched the Digital Education Agenda which includes establishing computer science as a foundational subject in the national curriculum as a major component.
- The United Kingdom has committed £100 million in its 2018 budget to train 8,000 new computer science teachers in secondary schools and establish a new National Centre for Computing Education.
- 20 other international organizations have pledged to expand computer science to programs reaching 20,000 teachers and over 2 million students.
"Since 2015, Arkansas has led the nation in computer-science education," said Governor Hutchinson. "I'm proud of the work we've done, and this new K-8 stipend reinforces our commitment to provide students access to computer science education in the best possible way, starting with the early years."
"I am excited to join the efforts to expand access to computer science education for all students in Alabama," said Governor Ivey. "We live in a technology-driven world so I want to ensure our educational system teaches in a technology-driven way."
"Our students need all of the tools available to be prepared to succeed in our ever-changing world, and that includes opportunities to learn computer science. That's why I'm initiating efforts to require all K-12 schools in Indiana to offer computer science by 2021," said Governor Holcomb.
"We know that the jobs of the future will demand new skills and savvy with computers and technology," said Governor Wolf. "My goal is to ensure that every school in our state offers a rigorous computer science course, and the first step towards that is working with the State Board of Education and Legislature to endorse computer science standards for all students."
"California is the tech capital of the country and home to Silicon Valley, but we don't teach our students the foundational skills to access the jobs of the future. Right now most schools in California don't offer any computer science classes and sadly, that disparity is punctuated by striking gender and racial gaps," Lt. Governor Newsom said. "I'm thrilled to announce the launch of CSforCA to make sure every California student has access to high-quality computer science education."
"PwC is excited to announce a grant to Code.org to fund a middle-school curriculum and support the training of computer science teachers over the next three years. This commitment is a cornerstone of our Access Your Potential® initiative, which is dedicated to closing the opportunity gap," said Colleen Kipfstuhl, Director, Responsible Business Leadership, PwC.
Recognition of progress and work to be done
Also at the event today, Code.org partnered with the Computer Science Teachers Association to recognize and award the 2017 Champions for Computer Science: the students, teachers, schools, districts, and organizations making a tangible impact – from students developing a wristband and app to help parents monitor their young children to educators creating a hub to expand computer science to rural communities statewide. 16 winners were recognized, but close to a thousand were nominated, each making their own impact on the movement.
"While significant work remains ahead, today's pledges, dedication, and support reflect unprecedented global momentum behind the vision that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science," said Hadi Partovi, Code.org founder.