CSEdWeek is in full swing and one of the many events being held was a lunch briefing today on Capitol Hill. A full committee room of attendees and two Congressmen came to hear about the importance of computer science education in the K – 12 classroom.
CSEdWeek Chair Ruthe Farmer from NCWIT spoke about the need to differentiate between the use of technology and the creation of technology. It is still difficult in many areas in the US to explain that just because children are using computers in their classrooms that does not mean they are learning computer science.
Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) and Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) spoke about the need for more computer science education in order for the jobs of the future to be filled in the US instead of outsourced to countries that are teaching computing to their students. Polis noted that a bill he sponsored, the CS Education Act, would place computer science in the core subjects of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is the overarching federal law affecting K – 12 education.
Douglas Rushkoff, author of “Program or Be Programmed”, spoke to the need for digital fluency among the populace and that we should be teaching students how to create the technology of tomorrow rather than how to use the technology of today. Brenda Wilkerson from the Chicago Public Schools noted that it is with partnerships between local K – 12 schools, colleges, and companies that necessary changes to teaching and curriculum can be made. The panel also featured a computer science major from UMBC who spoke to her journey into CS in college. Alison Derbenwick Miller of Oracle Academy rounded out the panel with the call to action that the US needs a rigorous, continuous computer science education from elementary to post-secondary school to remain competitive.