In a sensible worldat least as defined by computer scientists who, as we all know, are eminently sensible peoplethere would be no need for the ACM Education Policy Committee (EPC). Educational systems, and the policymakers and officials who influence them, would be fully aware that computer science knowledge and skills are among the most essential ingredients of a modern education. They would recognize that not only does this knowledge provide the foundation for modern competency in many others fields ranging from sciences to communications to entertainment and more, but that only through giving students deep computer science (CS) knowledge can we expect to have a new generation that can createnot just consumethe next wave of computing innovations. Educators and policymakers also would be fully cognizant that in conversations about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs, the current and projected demand for computing workers far outstrips any other area of STEM and faces by far the greatest deficiency of supply relative to demand.
Of course, we don't live in a perfect world. All aspects of our world are influenced by history, and the existence of CS still "only" dates back about half a century, which pales in comparison to math, biology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences. While the higher education system adapted fairly quickly to the existence and importance of CS, the K12 system has not. More recently, the situation has gotten worse in nations including the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S (the initial focus of the EPC), the last decade has seen significant declines in the number of K12 CS courses, the number of students taking the CS advanced placement exam, and the number of undergraduate CS majors. At the same time, however, the demand for CS professionals continues to grow. In addition, the participation of women and underrepresented minorities remains low at all levels.
ACM formed the EPC in 2007 to engage policymakers and the public on public policy issues in CS, including:
While the U.S. is the initial focus, computing education is a global issue and many positions of the committee have global applicability.
In its brief history, the EPC has had some significant impacts, including:
There are, as Robert Frost said, miles to go before we sleep. We welcome your suggestions and support!
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