Tuesday, July 1, 2014

California STEM Task Force Report Released - ICT Largely Unrecognized

California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson released a STEM Task Force Report at a press event at The Exploratorium in San Francisco yesterday

"INNOVATE: A Blueprint for Science Technology,Engineering, and Mathematics in California Public Education" examines the current state of STEM education in California, and it provides seven recommendations for improving STEM education.  

The report notes how important STEM is to California's economyh and, generally, how poor California does in STEM education in public schools.  Really, if math were not included it would be an embarrassing story.  Math was part of No Child Left Behind, which led many schools and districts to reduce science, technology and engineering instruction.  Science was only tested three times in California under NCLB, once in elementary, once in middle and once in high school, leading many schools to de-emphasize those areas in favor of math and English.

While the study and effort are applaudable, it is disturbing to note how little recognition there is in the report for ICT and computer science.  The information and communication technologies (ICT) and information technology (IT) terms are not used at all.  "Computer Science" appears only 5 times in the report, basically acknowledging Code.org efforts and its projections of a million computer science worker shortfall between now and 2020.

Clearly, more work is needed to help efforts and leaders like these understand the importance of ICT in 21st century economies and the absolutely critical and massive need for radically improved ICT education and workforce development in California, now.

The report is focused at the K-12 level, basically college and career readiness, not addressing the unmet needs for improved ICT education and workforce development in higher education.

Many of the recognitions and recommendations of the report apply to ICT/Computer Science, but without explicit recognition of the size, importance and special needs of this sector, it is hard to believe that California K-12 education will step up to meet those needs in anything like the near future.

Good news, but baby steps?

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