Harrisburg, PA – Building on his support of making computer science education available for all students, Governor Tom Wolf is today joined the bipartisan Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a multi-state initiative organized by Code.org. The national coalition is committed to increasing access and funding for computer science education in K-12 schools.
“Over the next decade, seven in ten jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and technology,” said Governor Wolf. “We must do more to make computer science education available in our schools and prepare our children for these highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the country and bring new opportunities to the commonwealth.”
Through the partnership, which includes 13 states, Governor Wolf is supporting policies that enable all high schools to offer at least one rigorous computer science course, fund professional learning opportunities so teachers can teach the courses, and establish standards to ensure quality and equity.
All students should have the opportunity to study computer science, regardless of their race, gender or socioeconomic background, however opportunity gaps remain. In 2015, only one in 10 Pennsylvania students in grades 7 through 12 were enrolled in a computer science course, with significant gaps for girls, students of color and low-income students.
“There is no greater action we can take to dramatically improve the competitiveness of our state and our country than to prepare our kids for jobs in the digital economy,” said Bob Moul, tech entrepreneur and organizer of CS4Philly. “In the next decade more than 70 percent of all jobs will require technical competency – computer science has become as fundamental to our students as reading, writing, and arithmetic.”
The Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science Education is a multi-state initiative organized by Code.org. The national nonprofit launched in 2013 is dedicated to expanding access to computer science for all students.
“Equitable access to high-quality computer science education is an economic development imperative,” said Sunanna Chand, Director of Remake Learning. “The Pittsburgh region has more computer science job openings than we can fill, and diversity is a challenge, with African Americans comprising only 1 percent of the IT workforce. With leadership from Governor Wolf and Code.org, as well as local partners like Carnegie Mellon University and Google Pittsburgh, among many others, we can close the opportunity gap.”
As part of Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts, the Wolf Administration will work with national, regional, and state partners to promote promising practices for ensuring that students have access a rigorous, well-rounded education, including computer science, regardless of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, or zip code.
“Computer science is important to the future of all students, not just those interested in tech careers,” said Leann Tepsich-Cox, Coordinator of Grants and STEM Education at Steelton-Highspire School District. “Learning computer science provides students with critical problem solving skills that will help them succeed in their career and in the community. At Steel-High we are driving toward using innovative Ag Tech as a conduit for STEM learning and computer science is integral to this learning. Steel-High is a district on the rise and computer science is a great way to entice and engage all of our learners.”
This partnership builds the commonwealth’s strong commitment to STEM education, where Pennsylvania has been recognized as a national leader. Pennsylvania needs to have a STEM-ready workforce to fill approximately 300,000 jobs requiring STEM skills by 2018.
Governor Wolf has taken action to increase access to computer science in schools. Last year, he signed a bill into law that allows computer science courses to count toward high school graduation, making it one of 24 states with the policy. Last month, he urged the State Board of Education to endorse rigorous K-12 computer science education standards that would ensure that each student in Pennsylvania has access to computer science courses in their school.
Over the past 19 months the Pennsylvania Department of Education has been convening a cross-sector group of leaders from early childhood through postsecondary education, business and industry, workforce and community development, and other partners to establish the PA STEM coalition, which has worked to develop recommendations for expanding STEM and computer science learning opportunities across the commonwealth. In Pennsylvania, over 1,200 educators are trained in Code.org K-12 resources (DCIU and AIU3 partnership) and 18,332 students took a Computer Science class in high school last year.