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Celebrating Computer Science Education Week


Director Cameron Wilson of ACM's Policy Office Washington

A little over a month ago, I wrote about the U.S. Congress passing a resolution designating the first week of December as Computer Science Education Week. As far as attention for the field goes, this was cool, but my main point was if we were satisfied with just a Congressional resolution we'd have missed a big opportunity. It was up to the community to make something of Computer Science Education Week.

This was a call to action when science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- the so-called "STEM" fields -- education reform is on the minds of national and local leaders. In other words, we've never had a better opportunity to highlight how computer science is transforming society and how students -- at all levels -- need to be exposed to computer science education.

In just over a month, the community has stepped up to bring together some really useful resources, promote the field, further strengthen an already strong community and tell computer science education's story to the world:

  • ACM pulled together a new web portal for computer science education (www.csedweek.org) to serve as a central hub for the week.
  • Microsoft created its own csedweek page.
  • Google blogged about csedweek on its main blog.
  • Congressman Ehlers and Congressman Polis, the Members of Congress that spearheaded this effort, circulated a letter to all of their colleagues announcing the week and the website.
  • The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) issued a call to action on their blog, listing several things teachers can do to celebrate the week.
  • CSTA's leadership cohort (teachers that are committed to leading reforms in their states) got the State of Ohio and the State of Wisconsin to support csedweek.
  • The message is also getting heard where it counts -- in the schools themselves. The Los Angeles Unified School District issued a release in support of the week and so did the Cypress-Fairbanks school district in Texas.
  • Carnegie Mellon is celebrating by hosting a "Computer Science Education Day" conference.
  • MIT Press is honoring several computer science education leaders throughout the week.

And this is just a sample of only what we've heard so far! We've seen press stories, local celebrations and teachers coming together on Facebook to ask each other what they are doing this week. My personal favorite was Mark Guzdial's post to "hug a computer science teacher" to celebrate this week.

This is a great start to the inaugural year for Computer Science Education Week.  All of these things are the beginnings of a much-needed national debate about computer science education. But this is just the start. Now we need to build on this throughout the year and make next year's Computer Science Education Week an even more prominent part of the education landscape.

All of this couldn't have been done without some key partnerships. ACM has been working with the cooperation and deep involvement of the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Computing Research Association, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the Anita Borg Institute, the National Science Foundation, Google, Inc., Intel, and Microsoft on this effort and wish to thank them for their involvement.


 

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