Assemblymember Berman Introduces New Legislation to Kick Off Computer Science Education Week

Monday, December 3, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblymember Berman introduced two bills to guide the state’s advancement of computer science education. The new legislation comes as Computer Science Education Week – a national campaign to promote K-12 computer science education – begins.

“Universal and early access to computer science education is critical to providing California’s students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Too many students don’t even have the opportunity to take computer science courses in California public schools, and this digital divide is often felt the most in low-income communities and school districts.”

In September, the state adopted its first-ever computer science standards. Now, California is considering adopting a Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan (CSSIP). The plan would address broadening the pool of computer science teachers, defining computer science education principles that meet the needs of K-12 students, and ensuring that all students have access to quality computer science courses.

Assembly Bill 20 would create the California Computer Science Coordinator within the California Department of Education, a role needed to oversee the state’s successful implementation of the CSSIP, and Assembly Bill 52 would require the CSSIP to be continually updated to ensure it remains relevant and reflects technological advancements.

“In today’s digitally driven world, technology is woven into the fabric of every company and every job,” said Kara Bush on behalf of the Computing Technology Industry Association, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Every California student deserves to be fully prepared to thrive in the 21st century. Location and socio-economic conditions should not be a barrier – regardless of whether you reside in the Central Valley, South Central LA, or East Palo Alto. All students deserve to be exposed to the same building blocks for success. We are proud to work with Assemblymember Berman to take tangible steps that will provide access to new career opportunities for California students, and create a diverse and skilled employee pipeline that will attract and develop new companies in the Golden State.” 

The Instructional Quality Commission and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction are expected to recommend a draft CSSIP to the State Board of Education in March of next year. The plan is based on recommendations made by an advisory panel earlier this year. The State Board of Education is required to consider adopting the plan on or before July 15, 2019.

“TechNet is proud to co-sponsor Assembly Bill 20 and Assembly Bill 52, and we thank Assemblymember Berman for his continued leadership on computer science education,” said Courtney Jensen, Executive Director for TechNet. “To prepare our students for the jobs of the future, it is essential that computer science must be taught in every California school. The U.S. faces a significant and growing computer science skills gap that is leaving too many of our young people unable to secure the high-paying job opportunities available to them in the innovation economy.”

There are nearly 571,000 open computing jobs nationwide according to Code.org. However, only slightly more than 49,000 students graduated with computer science degrees last year.

Introducing computer science courses at a young age has the potential to close the diversity gap in computer science fields and provide the workforce needed for California and the nation to remain competitive in the global economy. Statistics indicate that young women who take an Advanced Placement computer science course in high school are 10 times as likely to major in computer science in college. African American and Latino students are over seven times more likely.

Assemblymember Berman’s advocacy for computer science education for all California students dates back to his tenure at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, a non-profit focused on STEM education and closing the achievement gap in Silicon Valley public schools. Earlier this year, Assemblymember Berman introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 265 designating September 2018 as California Computer Science Education Month, and hosted an education forum in East Palo Alto on closing the computer science gap in K-12 education.

 

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024