As Network advocates prepare agendas for 2019 legislative sessions, college and career readiness initiatives are expected to be a major focus. In this year’s PIE Network Member Priorities Survey, thirty-five Network members in 24 states indicated that they are planning to prioritize these issues in 2019, including many policies relating to digital literacy. Recent initiatives such as Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code are helping advocates across the Network to build their case.
Through their work in the New York Equity Coalition, The Education Trust-New York is working to ensure that all New York students are prepared for “college, career, and active citizenship.” In a recent report, the coalition highlights the importance of access to advanced coursework, including computer science. The report calls on New York leaders to fulfill five commitments to every student graduating in the class of 2025, starting with the cohort of students who are currently in sixth grade.
According to Ian Rosenblum, EdTrust-New York executive director, the New York Equity Coalition is building momentum to address the fact that New York’s education system routinely denies students of color equitable access to rigorous courses—such as computer science—that will prepare them for success in their future.
“Addressing these challenges is both an educational justice and an economic imperative, and we and our partners will continue a steady drumbeat calling attention to this issue until state leaders adopt solutions that will give all students the high-quality education they deserve,” Rosenblum said.
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) recently presented their Digital Equity Walk at the Massachusetts Digital Equity Summit for Economic and Educational Inclusion. Bringing together state leaders in banking, workforce development, education, affordable housing and philanthropy, this conference gives these groups an opportunity to discuss and collaborate on how to close the digital equity gap and resources available to communities.
MBAE’s interactive presentation raises awareness about the lack of access to computer science coursework in underserved communities and looks to engage a range of stakeholders in critical conversations about how the digital equity gap can be closed. Earlier this year, during Massachusetts STEM Week and at the annual state STEM Summit, MBAE held two additional Digital Equity Walks, which were attended by educators, business leaders and policymakers who contributed valuable perspective on the challenges the state faces as well as the solutions that should be considered.
Jackney Prioly Joseph, director of career readiness initiatives at MBAE, said the audiences at Digital Equity Walks have been struck by the fact that Massachusetts, a state that should be at the forefront given the nature of its economy, is so far behind.
“The great news is we’re building a constituency of support for closing gaps—90 percent of attendees of our Digital Equity Walk agree to making a greater commitment to the expansion of access to computer science for ALL students.”
Additional organizations working on expanding access to computer science courses include:
- HawaiiKidsCAN hosted a special Hour of Code with students from four local schools and teaching board members. The organization also played a major role in Act 51, a new and innovative way to help set up local kids for college and career success. This work was supported by the Future of Education in Hawaii Vision Guide, which was released earlier this year. For this work, HawaiiKidsCAN was nominated for 2018 Best Kept Secret at the 2018 Eddies! More information on these efforts can be found here.
- The A+ Education Partnership in Alabama, which ranks second nationally in computer science offerings per capita, worked with the Governor’s Office to hold the first ever Computer Science Education Summit to discuss further broadening computer science education opportunities in the state.
- PIE Network partner the Foundation for Excellence in Education highlighted a recent report from the Code.org Advocacy Organization and Computer Science Teachers Association, which captures school level data showing where computer science courses are offered. The full report can be found here.
To connect with other advocates working on computer science access, please reach out.