Why CS in Schools, Part 1

As I mentioned, this is the beginning of a series on why computer science has a place in our schools, why it’s not there now, and what to do about that. So tonight, as we’re watching polls close and results get tallied, let’s talk about numbers.

Specifically, numbers related to one of the clearest reasons to expose kids to computer science: jobs.

Tech-related jobs abound, but Americans qualified to do them, well, don’t abound. Nationwide, tech jobs outnumber CS grads three to one; on the west coast (what?!) it’s sixteen to one in California and an astonishing twenty-seven to one in Washington.  We’re on track to have a million unfilled computing positions by 2020! And note especially that we’re not just talking about software companies; two thirds of computing jobs are in other fields.


Jobs of any kind going unfilled when unemployment is still at nearly six percent would be unfortunate regardless of the quality of those positions. Given salaries in computing, though, it’s downright outrageous: the 2014 list of the best-paying college majors includes information technology, computer information systems, computer science, software engineering, and computer engineering. Software engineering and IT positions are among the top ten most common for people making anywhere from $48,000 to $207,000 a year, according to NPR (follow thing link for a less blurry and more interactive version of this diagram).


Note, too, that while many other math- and science-related majors appear on the best college investment list, they don’t (other than physicians) show up in the chart of most common jobs. We’ve seen a lot of push for more STEM in schools lately, but if we’re serious about preparing our kids for the jobs of tomorrow (and, frankly, today), it’s time for that to include exposure to computer programming:


Let’s change that.

(The first and last diagram, as well as much of my professional inspiration, come from code.org).


So now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit, here’s my master plan: NaNoWriMo is all about getting people who dream about writing a book to overcome inertia and just start, right? I don’t have a novel rattling around in my head, but I did have this domain name that I needed a catalyst to get off of the ground.  So…the goal is to get something posted every day for the rest of the month (although not things that add up to fifty thousand words, don’t worry!). I imagine a voice and clear idea about long-term posting schedule will emerge gradually, but in the mean time, in order to keep things organized, I’m going to expand on the talk I referred to in my first post.

Here’s the outline for the next four weeks, then:

  • why computer science has a place in the K-12 curriculum
  • why it’s not currently occupying that place, and
  • what to do about that

And here, in the form of a nifty infographic from Kodable, is a sneak peak at some of those things:

5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code