Dec 19 2009

Help Reform Computer Science Education

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m Chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology.  In five years, NCWIT has become a prominent national organization helping encourage, inspire, advocate, and educate women (and girls) to get involved in computer science based on the following belief:

“We believe that inspiring more women to choose careers in IT isn’t about parity; it’s a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability. In a global economy, gender diversity in IT means a larger and more competitive workforce; in a world dependent on innovation, it means the ability to design technology that is as broad and creative as the people it serves.”

One of the disheartening things I’ve learned in the past few years from my involved in NCWIT is the abysmal state of computer science in K-12 in the United States.  It’s just awful – I’ve looked at some of the curriculum, the AP test, and some of the courseware and it’s so bad it makes me want to crawl under my desk and curl up in a ball.  Here are a few scary facts for you:

  • More than 1.6 million students took Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2009, but barely 1% of the AP exams taken were in computer science.
  • The portion of high schools offering rigorous computer science courses fell from 40% in 2005 to 27% in 2009.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that nearly one million information technology jobs will be added to our workforce by 2016, but U.S. universities will produce only half the computing graduates needed to fill the new jobs.

As one of its major initiatives, NCWIT is taking on reforming computer science education.  Help us out by making a tax deductable donation to NCWIT for our DC Campaign.  And help us spread the word – our friends at Google (great supporters of NCWIT) have sponsored an all expenses-paid trip to Australia to meet with the Google Wave team and have lunch in the Google Sydney office (ok – and three nights for two people) for anyone that forwards this message on.