One of the big issues with computer science education is that it is not an integral part of the curriculum It is almost always an elective and doesn’t count as meeting specific graduation requirements. And then there is the whole issue of lack of teacher certification standards and standard curriculum. About the only standard in education is the Advanced Placement curriculum and it is far from universally accessible. It looks like a couple of members of Congress are trying to address these issues. (From Robert P. Casey Jr. | United States Senator for Pennsylvania: Newsroom – Press Releases.)
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today introduced the Computer Science Education Act, which will help prepare Americans for the more than 1.5 million high-wage computing jobs that are expected to be created in the U.S. by 2018. The bill will help states to increase and strengthen their computer science offerings in K-12 education.
To reverse these troubling trends and prepare Americans for jobs in this high-wage, high-growth field, the Computer Science Education Act will:
- Ensure computer science offerings are an integral part of the curriculum;
- Develop state computer science standards, curriculum, and assessments;
- Improve access to underserved populations;
- Create professional development and teacher certification initiatives, including computer science teacher preparation programs in higher education;
- Form a commission on computer science education to bring states together to address the computer science teacher certification crisis; and,
- Establish an independent, rigorous evaluation of state efforts with reporting back to Congress and the administration.
It sounds good. I haven’t read the bill yet as it doesn’t seem to be in the Library of Congress Thomas database yet so I’m not ready to endorse the specifics of course. But I do like the sounds of what I read on Sen. Casey’s press release. There is no telling how far a bill like this well go and even if it passes it may be very different by that time. But at least some in Congress are aware of the issue and trying to do something about it. A while back we saw Computer Science Education Week get Congressional support. Another step in the right direction though it is too early to see how much difference that makes. CS Ed Week doesn’t force or even incent states to solve the issues we see in Computer Science Education though. When ever you force people to do anything, no matter how good it is for them, there is resistance. IF this bill starts some conversations that would be a good start. We’ll have to see where it goes from here.
EDIT: You can read the bill at http://polis.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Bill_Text_-_Computer_Science_Education_Act.pdf