Computing makes up two-thirds of projected new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) — the fastest growing job industry overall. Yet, less than half of all high schools incorporate computer science courses or education, a number that declines even more when looking down toward junior high and elementary schools. The discipline also has a serious diversity problem — only 22 percent of AP Computer Science students are women and 13 percent are Black or Latino.
Douglas County, part of the Atlanta metropolitan area, is tackling this problem with the help of a group of powerful tech partners that include Google, code.org, and Georgia Tech. The “Computer Science for All” initiative will bring more opportunities for students from K-12 to study computer science.
The Douglas County public school system services 25,000 students, over half of whom are Black and 14 percent are Latino. Many of these students feed into local colleges including Georgia Tech, which is where the genesis of the program began.
When Google provided a $100,000 grant to the university to support computer science education, the university worked with Douglas County School System STEM Coordinator Elaine Wood to use half of the grant to develop the path towards the new program.
“We believe Google has an important role to play in equipping students from all backgrounds with the skills to be creators — not just consumers — of technology,” said Lilyn Hester, Google’s Head of Public Affairs in the Southeast.
“As our global economy is shifting, computer science and STEM skills are becoming essential to economic and social mobility, preparing our students for rewarding careers and equipping them to solve problems in ways we can’t even imagine today. We’re proud to play a role in providing these opportunities to students in Douglas County — students who will undoubtedly shape our future by innovating and driving technologies for years to come.”
To ensure educators are equipped to bring this education to their students, a Computer Science Task Force within Douglas County Schools will develop teacher capacity, work to integrate computer science education into existing courses, and create unique classes focused solely on computer science.
“Providing access to Computer Science education and training is a critical step for ensuring that Douglas County’s students are positioned to compete for well-paying jobs post-graduation while simultaneously helping to keep our nation competitive in the global economy and bolster its cybersecurity,” said Wood.
The complete curriculum is expected to be finalized for the 2019-2020 school year.