More than 600 leaders of nonprofits, universities, and tech giants – as well as 50 US governors – have signed a letter in support of updating the US K-12 curriculum to include opportunities to learn computer science.
Industry giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Alphabet, Nike, UPS, AT&T, Walgreens, Zillow and more have all come together to partner with tech education non-profit Code, which holds the mission of expanding access to computer science education, especially to underrepresented populations such as young women and people of color.
Founded in 2013 by twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi, Code has so far served 70 million students and two million teachers. The nonprofit has previously partnered with several big names on the list, including Google, Amazon and Microsoft, to create an annual Hour of Code campaign, a 60-minute computer science tutorial offered in over 45 languages.
The letter signees have committed to creating employment opportunities for computer science students in every American city and sector, from manufacturing to agriculture and onto healthcare. In addition, for many of the signees, this effort will include internships, career pathway resources and funding for computer science education within underserved communities.
The letter points out a notable deficit in America's curriculum: "The United States leads the world in technology, yet only 5% of our high school students study computer science."
SEE: Sorry, Gen Z isn't going to solve your tech skills crisis
Currently, 51% of schools offer computer science, a massive leap from 35% in 2018. Despite this progress, Hispanic students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented in high school computer science, relative to their state populations.
The letter also points out the contrast in the tech industry's workforce supply and demand. At the moment, America has 700,000 open computing jobs but only 80,000 computer science graduates annually.
Code's initiative to train the next generation of the computing workforce is within grasp partly due to existing infrastructure. Due to pandemic school closures, American schools funded laptops for 90% of students in order to achieve remote-learning objectives.
SEE: Cybersecurity has a desperate skills crisis. Rural America could have the answer
Ultimately, the letter says: "It is our responsibility to prepare the next generation for the new American Dream."
"At a time when every industry is impacted by digital technology, our schools should teach every student how technology works, to learn to be creators, not just consumers."