The need to teach computer programming to kids is becoming more pronounced as schools are overcoming obstacles to computer science classes.
Even in the cradle of technology, the San Francisco Bay Area, the ability to nurture the next generation of cyber smart students has fallen flat.
Many business and political leaders have spoken about the need to teach children computer programming and expand the field to attract more girls, and African Americans and Latinos. In the next decade, there could be a shortage of a million computer scientists, according to Code.org.
There are more coding classes being offered in high schools, but they are frequently a response to advocacy by teachers and persistent students, instead of being part of planned. systemic change.
According to the nonprofit Code.org, only 10 percent of U.S. high schools offer programming.
Next month, Northgate High in Walnut Creek and Leland High in San Jose will begin offering AP Computer Science — but only after students petitioned and delivered sign-ups.
That class will also debut at Oakland’s Castlemont High and San Jose’s Lincoln High, but teachers at both schools are depending on crowd-funding for students’ laptops.
“Every young person should have the ability to code,” said Eugene Lemon, 67, a recently retired Oakland Unified computer science teacher who has advocated relentlessly for more coding classes.
But it’s difficult to expand programming, said Mary Streshly, assistant superintendent in the Campbell Union High School District, where two of seven schools offer computer science. “We want to make sure we get buy-in from the sites and we want to make sure teachers are interested in the program.”
Last spring, Leland students who were pleading for computer science courses went to San Jose Unified’s office to address principals and other administrators.
“We’re supposed to be getting taught 21st century skills,” said senior Ian Renfro, 17, “and we had no computer-related classes at Leland.”