Friday, August 2, 2013

Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools News

ACCESS colleagues:

There's lots of positive things going on with respect to Computer Science Education recently.  Many of you may know much of this, but just to make sure everyone is aware ... here's a quick summary, with links for more information.

First, our national counterpart, Computing in the Core, has merged with code.org.  This merger includes the interim assignment of Cameron Wilson as COO of code.org.  You can read all about this partnership along with other expansions at code.org.  As you know, code.org's goal is the same as ACCESS' goal for California - that is, to ensure that every K-12 student in the US has the opportunity to study computer science.  We are partnering with code.org on actions specific to California.  More on this forthcoming.

Related to this, code.org will assume responsibility for organizing the annual national Computer Science Education Week going forward.  CSEdWeek was first launched by ACM in 2009 and has been held each year since.  This year, CSEdWeek will be December 8-14, with the focus to bring an "Hour of Code" to every student; please consider participating and spread the word so that every student in California has this experience.

Did you see the Today Show yesterday?  Hadi Partovi, CEO of code.org, appeared and discussed the importance of teaching computer science in our schools in the segment, which is well worth watching ... You can catch it here: nonprofit teaches kids to code.  Highlighted was LAUSD's partnership with UCLA in Exploring Computer Science; UCLA Community School teacher, Kim Merino, and her class were part of the segment.  Hadi also taught Ryan Seacrest how to code!

More national news ... last month, the US House of Representatives passed HR 5, the Student Success Act, which restores local control, supports effective teachers, reduces the federal footprint, and empowers parents.  But more importantly, HR 5 includes provisions helpful to computer science education and educators, thanks to the approval of an amendment from Representatives Brooks (R-IN) and Polis (D-CO).  You can see more about this bill here in the Computing in the Core Newsroom. The computer science education amendment modifies the definition of "core academic subjects" in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to include computer science, and clarifies that computer science educators should be supported by the bill’s professional development initiatives.   Education Week wrote a piece on it in their Curriculum Matters blog.

And just yesterday, Senators Casey (D-PA) and Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bi-partisan bill to advance K-12 Computer Science education - the Computer Science Education and Jobs Act (S 1407).  You can also read more about this bill here in the Computing in the Core Newsroom.  In addition to amending the definition of "core academic subjects" in ESEA to add computer science, the Senate bill also amends provisions so that states must consider workforce needs when developing their Title I state improvement plans and amends Title II professional development funds so states could build programs for fields that are important to the state’s workforce—clearly relevant to computer science.  In addition, it expands the AP incentive program to include AP CS and explicitly includes computer science in ESEA's math science partnerships.


In addition, a House freshman from California—Representative Tony C├írdenas (D-CA 29th, San Fernando Valley)—will be introducing the "Computer Science in STEM Act" probably tomorrow.  We'll have to watch where this goes.

As these and other national initiatives unfold, you can get background advocacy information at the Computing in the Core CSEA Advocacy Site.  There's useful information there if you have the inclination to contact your congress members.

It's thrilling to see such positive movement for computer science education, and we'll be trying to keep you posted on such happenings.  Moreover, Julie Flapan, ACCESS Executive Director, and I are planning a website for ACCESS, and hope to provide useful information related to California computer science education.

Debra

Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools
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Debra Richardson
Professor of Informatics
Founding Dean, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3440

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