Over the past couple years, it has become apparent to school districts across the country, particularly in inner city schools, that teaching computer science to ALL students (CS4All or CS For All) is a good idea and must be done. I am proud to have been one of the people pushing this idea for the last decade and I am even more proud of how far we have come in NYC highlighted by Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of NYC’s CS4All effort a year ago this month.
Earlier this year the White House realized that getting all of these CS For All efforts around the country connected and communicating was a good idea and the President announced a national CS For All in January of this year.
The thing that is so great about this CS For All movement it has been “bottom up” instead of “top down.” The elected officials are getting on the bandwagon and providing funding and other resources for it (not anywhere near enough yet) but CS For All has emerged from the classrooms, from the students and teachers, aided by a bunch of computer science and education researchers in higher education. There are literally hundreds of organizations, almost all non-profits, that have built the curriculum, professional development, and other tools and resources that together make up the CS For All movement around the country. There have been some unsung heroes, many of them women interestingly, like Jane Margolis, who started working in the LA public schools a decade ago and wrote a book about that which woke a lot of people up, including me, and Jan Cuny at the NSF who has funded a lot of the curriculum development work over the past decade, and many others who have been working for a long time to make this happen.
But happen it has. CS For All is expanding all over the country at a very rapid pace.
And yesterday, at the White House Summit on Computer Science Education, the CS For All Consortium was announced. The CS For All Consortium will serve as a hub for families, schools, and districts looking for resources that match their needs, including content by grade level and target audience. The consortium website at http://www.csforall.org/ will help connect members of the national CS education community, provide an avenue for disseminating their work, and track our collective progress toward the goal of providing every student with the opportunity to learn CS.
For now, our CS For All organization in NYC, CSNYC, that I co-founded a few years ago will be leading this effort. A lot of our work in NYC has influenced the national movement. We believe in a bottom up approach where there is not one standard curriculum or one standard pathway for a student to study CS. We have fostered an approach in NYC where literally dozens of computer science education organizations are active helping the NYC school system get CS in every school in the city (>1700 of them). We have built a big tent that allows all schools, all students, all teachers, all parents, all curriculums, all approaches, and all volunteers to participate. Literally CS for All.
And we are excited to bring that approach to the national effort. Michael Preston and Leigh Ann Delyser of CSNYC have been leading this work and I am very appreciative of their efforts to make this a reality. If you are a teacher, a student, a parent, a principal, or anyone else who wants help getting CS for all of your students, you can visit the CS For All consortium website and find resources that can help you do that. I encourage you to do that.