It is no big secret that we must start educating our children in the various technologies that will pave our future path. While education curriculum thus continues to reform to focus more on science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM, as some know it). In fact, some of the biggest companies in the world—including Apple, AT&T, Facebook, and even retailers Target and Walmart—are pushing for Congress to improve computer education among all K-12 students in the United States.
While the United States may be the biggest—if not, one of the biggest—consumers of technology, we are not necessarily raising a generation of literate users. Both China and India compete with the US in this field and these countries continue to increase both their knowledge of technology and—more importantly—their proficiency with it.
As such, a group consisting of several dozen of these top US businesses declared in an open letter to Congress, Tuesday, “Our schools should give all students the opportunity to understand how this technology works, to learn how to be creators, coders, and makers — not just consumers.. Instead, what is increasingly a basic skill is only available to the lucky few, leaving most students behind, particularly students of color and girls.”
It has been estimated that 500,000 US jobs remain unfilled which require, at least, some level of computer science knowledge. That is half a million jobs! But only about one-quarter—that is 25 percent—of the nation’s public schools offer any type of computer science courses.
And this is why many companies look to foreign workers, in this country, for employees with specialized skills.
Unfortunately, the American school system—or perhaps it is Congress—has held computer science to be a bit of an elective course, an extra, alternative class. And to those who work in the computer (and internet, etc) field find this to be somewhat ludicrous.
“It just seems so ridiculously obvious that our education policy has to include computer science as a basic,” extols Barry Diller, CEO of online travel company Expedia. Also the owner of IAC—which operates websites like Daily Beast, Dictionary.com, and Match.com, the dating site—Diller continues, “The fact that you’d even discuss it seems absurd.”
While computer and tech jobs used to be a specialized field, the industry is expanding to touch nearly everything we use in our every day lives. Indeed, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey comments, “Computer science is not just about becoming an engineer, but teaching people how to think in a different way, in a critical way. That can be helpful in any field,”