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San Francisco Makes STEM a Priority

by Liana Heitin

Education Week

Article excerpt

San Francisco’s Cutting-Edge Plan: Bring Computer Science to All PreK-12 Students

The San Francisco school district announced [in July] that it will phase in teaching computer science to all students at all grade levels. It’s an ambitious plan, and one that few other districts are even considering as of now.

Our take

Making Computer Science Mandatory from PreK-12

San Francisco has joined Chicago as one of only two major urban school systems in the country that have announced ambitious plans to bring mandatory computer science education to students from preK-12. It’s an important move and one that is likely to be heralded by many as organizations continue to struggle to find skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) workers. The mandatory piece of this is important. Currently, while computer science classes are offered at the higher grade levels in the Chicago system, only a small percentage of students take these courses—most are male and non-Latino, African-American. Is this a move your school district should be considering?

At a minimum it will pay to keep a close watch on what happens in San Francisco and Chicago. Training these young students to assume future roles in computer science is increasingly important. By making these courses mandatory—and starting them at a very young age—school systems can help to expand the base of those who are comfortable with technology, particularly those who are currently underrepresented (female and some minority students).