Look at the top ten most valuable companies in America. Half are technology firms. None of them existed before 1975. But this is not just a story about Silicon Valley. This is a major economic shift that affects nearly every aspect of our economy. We aren’t ready for it, but Alec has a plan to change that.
Maryland is fortunate to have the hardest-working and most talented teachers in the country. Despite the failures of the Hogan Administration to grasp the urgency of the current challenge of Computer Science, thankfully many of our educators have heard the call loud and clear. Despite insufficient support from the state, they have organized to build an admirable foundation for Computer Science education for Maryland — from K-12 to higher education. We need to build on this good work — such as the programs in CE21 Maryland hosted by UMBC and UMCP as well as the Computer Science classes offered in local schools like those in Charles County.
Computer code is the alphabet that much of the future will be written in. Technology is transforming our economy, and code powers that change. This is a major economic shift that affects nearly every aspect of our economy. And we aren’t ready for it.
60% of schools in Maryland don't offer computer science courses.
20,000 jobs in Maryland went unfilled last year due to a lack of qualified workers.
The gaps in Maryland’s Computer Science education system are not about the talent and commitment of its educators -- these are policy problems.
First, and most importantly, the state should dedicate funding for Computer Science teacher
training in Maryland. To dramatically expand Computer Science course offerings, of course, we
need teachers trained in Computer Science instruction at all levels — including elementary school modules for computational thinking integrated into other courses. That means both re-training teachers schooled in another subject and minting new teachers that want to be Computer Science educators through our college-level schools of education.
Second, the law should require all K-12 schools to offer Computer Science courses. This starts
with a low level requirement to offer courses of some kind. At the primary and middle school
level, that means integrating computational thinking and computer science modules into existing
curricula for math and science. At the high school level, that means offering stand alone Computer Science courses as an option to fulfill the existing requirement for technology education. Over time, we will expand the requirement such that not only are all schools offering Computer Science, but that all students must receive it. This universal provision from elementary school forward directly impacts the gender and racial diversity of Computer Science students in high school and college. By teaching Computer Science early, we can interest more kids for the long term and help preempt the social stereotypes that steer only certain kids to the field as they get older.
Third, the government must work with teachers, schools, and experts to establish and apply
standards to ensure quality and consistency in Computer Science courses across the state. There are already authorized standards for curricula that can be customized to fit our schools. This work — and much more — could be supported by empowering and funding the new Center for Computing Education recently established in the University of Maryland system. Alongside standards, the state should help ensure that all schools have high-speed broadband connectivity and devices in the classroom that are up to date. Connectivity is an especially important issue in rural areas.
Without significant change in these three areas, we will be stuck in low gear. The policy barriers
to achieving Computer Science education for every student in Maryland are slowing down the
forces of both supply and demand. Despite our need for more Computer Science educators, there are incentives for new teachers to choose other STEM subjects other than Computer Science.