In every epoch, there is a must do for schools and communities. The cotton gin, the steam engine, railroads, automobiles, radio, television, Sputnik, and computers were the economic drivers of public education.
In 1973 the protocols for the Internet were developed and the world began to flatten. Ten years later, in 1983, Paul Allen and Bill Gates announce Windows and a horizon emerges that has yet to be crossed. It is hard to imagine what lays ahead but the litany of innovations since 1985 are breathtaking—AOL, Linux, World Wide Web, Cell Phones, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook—are a few of the digital developments that transformed the world. The derivatives of these groundbreaking innovations have resulted in a dazzling array of digital devices that democratize access to information.
The back-story for far too many students is a fascination with gadgets and little to no understanding of the operating systems that regulate purchases at McDonald’s and provides access to 24 hours of uninterrupted Hip Hop. Learning to read and write algorithms is fundamental to being a productive citizen in the 21st century.
Surely, reading and writing code is not a career for everyone, it is, however, the lingua franca of the now future. Every student is already being touched by the digital age. No one should be ignorant about voting, shopping online, banking, communicating, understanding data, or discerning what is credible information. All this plus more is in every student’s reality.
The New York City Department of Education gets it—they want all 1.1 million students to take a computer science course by 2025. Bravo!!! There can be no reservation based on gender, race, or economic standing. Indeed, special emphasis must be made for students and their communities that have not benefitted from the prosperity of earlier innovations.
Hesitation now will result in new generations of have not’s. There can be no exclusions this time.