Coding is the language of the 21st Century economy. If our students can’t speak it, they will be left behind. We must do a better job preparing our students for the jobs that don’t exist yet—and we’ve got to start at an earlier age.
Over 42,000 computer jobs go unfilled in Texas each year because we do not produce enough computer scientists—and these jobs pay over twice the average salary in Texas. As a former computer science major at Texas A&M, this problem is close to my heart.
There is no reason we should be missing the opportunity to prepare students for these high paying jobs.
The majority of students do not have access to computer science courses until high school. What is more interesting, is that according to a recent State law, most 8th graders must now select one of five “endorsement” tracks, which influences their course curriculum throughout high school. Students interested in computer science would theoretically choose the STEM endorsement track.
But how are they supposed to know that they are interested in computer science if they have never been exposed to it?
Therein lies the problem: the vast majority of our middle schools do not offer computer science at all. Right now, the pipeline that produces Computer Science professionals starts at the high school level.
That is why I have been working with several members of the public, private, and non-profit sectors, to develop a plan that provides earlier access to quality computer science education for our kids.
In partnership with the University of Texas Center for STEM Education and non-profit organization Bootstrap, my curriculum initiative will train middle school teachers to integrate computer science into State-approved mathematics curriculums.
Intel, Dell, Facebook, Brocade, and Toyota of Texas have agreed to generously fund the training, and the first training workshop will be held March 23 – 25 in San Antonio.
Because the curriculum is taught through existing math classes, schools do not need additional teachers or classes. Forty middle school teachers from across the 23rd Congressional District of Texas may participate at little to no cost so that they can implement the program in the classroom in fall 2017. This could potentially expose at least 5,000 students in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas to Computer Science.
It’s exciting that the public and private sectors are working together to produce real returns for the community, and it is my hope that we inspire many more students to pursue careers in computer science.
Author: Former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.