Computer Science | News
Chicago Public Schools Makes Computer Science Core Subject
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago
Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett have launched plans
to elevate computer science to a core subject in the district.
According to information from the mayor's office, every CPS high
will begin offering a foundational course called "Exploring Computer
Science" within the next three years. Exploring Computer Science
was originally developed for the Los Angeles Unified School District through a
K-12/university partnership and has been available through CPS's Career
and Technical Education program since 2010. In the next five years, the
initiative will also introduce an Advanced Placement (AP) Computer
Science course to at least half of all CPS high schools and offer K-8
computer science courses at one quarter of CPS elementary schools. The
district also plans to allow computer science to count as a graduation
requirement within five years.
CPS is partnering with Code.org, a nonprofit computer science
organization, to implement this initiative. Code.org will provide the
district with free computer science curriculum and ongoing professional
developement and stipends for teachers.
According to the report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Teachers Union
is criticizing the initiative, citing concerns about adequate computer
equipment to support the courses when many of the district's schools
lack basic resources.
However, Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, a
nonprofit association for the information technology industry,
applauded the announcement. "Early identification of students who have
a real aptitude for computers and technology is a key factor in
educating these kids on the many career opportunities available to them
later in life," said Thibodeaux in a prepared statement. "More
importantly, technical literacy is a prerequisite for virtually every
occupation in today's information economy, even beyond technology
According to the mayor's office, less than three percent of college
students in the United States earn computer science degrees, even
though it's one of the highest paid professions, and in AP computer
science courses, less than 20 percent are women and less than 10
percent are African American or Latino. This initiative is part of the
school district's plan "to bridge the digital divide and gender gap" by
providing computer science education at an earlier age.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].