On Our Way with CS Education Today

For various reasons I shall not discuss, this Advocate Blog post has been a very long time coming. And, of course, I have changed the topic of the post since my first thoughts of it. It is all good, however.

It would be pretty much impossible for one to miss all the press (mostly good and positive) surrounding computer science, specifically computer science education. Perhaps the interest in that press was sparked during CS Education week, the Hour of Code, the CS Day at the White House, or President Obama urging students, “Don’t just play games on your phone; program it!” Or perhaps it was the relentless diligence and hard work of many of our CSTA members advocating to “Make CS Count” in their own states. In any case, the press is bringing a great deal of attention to CS education and then naturally to CSTA. And this is a good thing.

In my role as CSTA Board Chair, I have been contacted by several reporters recently for a phone interview for an article they are writing about CS education. It is pure delight to talk with the reporters and help enlighten them about CS education. One of my favorite reporter questions was about the one thing that would really help to promote K-12 CS education in the United States. Really? Just ONE thing? Would that it were so simple! With the help of CSTA and our wonderful sponsors, supporters, and partners, we would have the K-12 CS education dilemma all resolved immediately! We need teachers, who need CS licensure/certification, oh and CS pedagogy courses to help them learn how to teach CS. We need standards-based rigorous curriculum for our K-12 students. We need for CS to Count—preferably as a math or science credit towards high school graduation. We need administrators, school boards, legislators, and parents who understand the critical need to teach computer science in the K-12 space. We need time in the school day/schedule for another course offering (that rigorous CS course). We need computer equipment and other technology resources for the classrooms. And I have probably omitted some critical need, but you get the gist of the needs we have for K-12 computer science education.

The very good news is that we are making progress. We are not there yet, but we know where we are going, and we are on our way. We know that the CS community has to work together to solve this seemingly insurmountable task. And we are doing just that. Our good friends and supporters (far too many to mention—but you know who they are) are working to provide standards-based curriculum for teachers. Several states are working with CSTA members and other CS advocates to create a path to licensure/certification if one does not already exist. Some of those same CSTA members and CS advocates are working state by state to make CS count in each state. CSTA members advocate on an almost daily basis to enlighten administrators, school boards, legislators, and parents about the crucial need for computer science education in the K-12 classroom. And administrators are collaborating with teachers to find room in the school day/schedule to offer CS courses or integrate CS into existing courses. We are not there yet, but we are on our way.

I am so heartened to read news stories about how students are using computer science in the K-12 classroom—and what awesome projects they have developed, or what pressing problems they have solved. I am thrilled to read about all the support that business and industry friends are affording our K-12 CS educators. And, I was particularly encouraged by the caliber of applicants we had for the three open CSTA board positions. We had an incredibly talented and highly qualified pool of applicants—so many that selecting the top two candidates was a definite challenge for the CSTA Elections Committee. What a good challenge to have!

We are not there yet, but we are well on our way, and we are keeping up our momentum! It is all good.

Deborah Seehorn, CSTA Board of Directors Chair