California is home to the highest number of technology workers in America. However, our private tutors in Orange County have recently learned about new studies which indicate that well over half of all public schools in the Golden State do not offer students the computer science courses they may need should they choose a career in the field of technology.
According to research published by the Kapor Center–a nonprofit organization–and Computer Science for California–a campaign focused on promoting computer science education access–61 percent of California high schools do not offer these courses.
Demographic Statistics Tell a Tale
The study also found that students in low income or rural areas, as well as students of color, were the least likely to have access to computer science courses. Only 39 percent of California high schools where the majority of students are African-American, Native American, or Latino offer computer science courses, as opposed to 72 percent of schools where the majority of students are Asian or white.
Geographically, rural California high schools are 24 percent less likely to provide the aforementioned courses than schools in metropolitan areas, where that percent jumps to almost forty. Concerning income, computer science courses are more frequently provided at high income schools than in schools where the majority of students come from low income families. Regarding this particular statistic, a 20 percent differential was noted in favor of schools where the majority of students were from high income families.
During the 2016-2017 school year, only approximately three percent of California’s students were enrolled in computer science courses and as of 2018, only a mere one percent took advanced placement computer science courses. The latter can provide students with college credits.
Large gaps were also noted even at schools where students had access to computer science courses. For example, Native American, Latino and African-American students make up approximately 60 percent of California’s student base, but represent only approximately 16 percent of AP Computer Science A test-takers.
One of our private math tutors in Fountain Valley commented, “I hope we can find a way as a state to bridge the gap and get more training and equipment for computer science. Our state has the largest amount of technology works in the country, and it’s a job market that continues to expand. A lot of traditional jobs are being lost to automation, and I hope that computer science will prepare our kids for the jobs that will be available in the future.”
Gender and Racial Gaps in Computer Technology Industry
These disparities reflect on racial and gender gaps in the technology industry overall. For instance, Latinos make up only approximately five percent of the computer and technology workforce in Silicon Valley, even though almost 40 percent of California’s general workforce is Latino. In addition, men make up 70 percent of the Silicon Valley workforce.
Allison Scott, chief research officer and report author at the Kapor Center, stated that there is a lot of work to do in the future to make sure that all California students have access to computer science classes and that the state is at a critical point regarding this issue.
The report mentioned above does highlight several promising trends as well, however, including a steady increase in computer science course availability in recent years, which reflects a statewide push to add this course to the curriculum in more California schools.
In May of 2019, the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan was approved by the State Board of Education. This plan was developed to offer such courses in K-12 classrooms, as well as train educators so that the information can be taught appropriately.
Education Awareness Event Takes Place This Week
The timing of the report’s release corresponds with a weeklong event going on this week called “Summer of CS.” This event is led by Computer Science for California and the Sacramento County Board of Education. It was designed to bring administrators, counselors and teachers together for training on how to interact with students about computer science opportunities, as well as teach on this subject in a competent manner.
According to Allison Scott, as technology continues to be an integral part of the state’s economy, it is important to offer equitable opportunities and access to computer science courses to all California students.
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