With people starting to make plans for CS Ed Week and the recent spotlight on making CS count for graduation I think it is important to remember the needs of the teachers. In order for CS to count and for there to be CS ED Week activities you need to have teachers who are teaching CS and/or who are raising awareness for it. You also need K-8 teachers who are given the freedom to incorporate CS into their elementary and middle grades curriculum. You need teachers.
While we need teachers, the teachers need the administration and the local, state, and national governance boards to recognize certifications, preparatory programs, and many other form of professional development for CS. Until CS teachers are recognized and supported as other content areas are, we will run the gamut of types of CS programs in our schools from full curriculum to nothing.
We have made much headway with CS but we still need stronger support through certifications and legislation. I think that sometimes we need to better educate ourselves of the landscape of CS and use successes to our advantage. For example, Ohio has had a computer science certification for many years. I have been teaching for 16 years and it was in place way before me. Others could use the example of our certification as a starting point for conversation with their state education boards. It is completely plausible to ask your state why Ohio recognizes CS certification, has for a long time, and yours does not. Okay so it may not be that easy but you never know. Last year CSTA put out a document that took a look at all of the states, what they recognize, and information about CS. It was called Bugs in the System:Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S. and is a fantastic resource if you are trying to raise CS awareness in your state.
So maybe you are thinking that you are not in a position to talk to your state education board and that is fine. However, with resources from other states you can also go to your local administration and board and propose that you start CS or improve your CS offerings. Use the states around you with CS certifications or programs as a selling point. If the states near you are doing something, you can propose that your school get ahead of the rest of your state and begin a CS program/ increase your program. The idea of being “first” at offering something or getting ahead of other places appeals to many schools.
I think as we approach CS ED Week we need to take a look around us at what is going on in classrooms and states around the nation. Even look at other countries and the CS curriculum they are creating. Use this information to show someone, whether local or on a bigger stage, that CS is happening, it is on the move, and it will be a part of our futures. How fast it becomes a part of our schools’ future depends largely on us. It depends on our passion, our resources, and how many people we can reach.
So spend some time on the CSTA website and find some resources that you can use as you are planning events and talking to your administration. There is a whole organization (CSTA) supporting you and standing with you as you advocate for CS.