I, like the majority of Americans, rely heavily -- almost to the point of dependency -- on computer technology. Similarly in step with my fellow tech-toting countrymen and women, I possess only a scant understanding of how the gadgets I utilize on a daily basis actually work.
Buried beneath the bright and bubbly apps of our smartphones and computers is a vast, hidden underworld of code and programming, and it's composed in a language foreign to most Americans. If U.S. technological innovation is to continue on a meteoric trajectory, our students need to become fluent. For that, we need to revamp and require computer science education in K-12 schools.
Despite the ubiquity of computers in society, computer science is glaringly absent from K-12 education. In 2010, only nine states counted computer science as a core graduation credit and none required it as a condition of a student's graduation.
This situation is not improving. To the contrary, there are signs of stagnation. According to a recent report by Microsoft, only 2,100 high schools offered the Advanced Placement test in computer science last year, down 25% over the last five years.
Plenty can be done to counter this decline, and action must begin at the top. Computer science education needs to be clearly defined at the federal level, and grants must be offered to aid in course implementation and teacher certification. At the state and local level, school officials and teachers should strive to develop creative courses and standards, as well as to attract new computer science teachers.
The public education system is a beast not easily altered. Encumbered by a glut of competing interests, there's simply no easy way for it to advance from its static position, no matter how positive and clear the direction.
With the future just around the corner, our K-12 schools are stuck in the past. Implementing and requiring uniform computer science education, a course that actively encourages modern age computational thinking, logic, reasoning, and problem solving, and leads to riveting, futuristic careers in video game design, robotics, cognitive science, cryptography, and computational physics, is a good way to catch up.
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