To ensure that every child can learn the skills required to work in New York City’s fast-growing technology sector, Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce on Wednesday that within 10 years all of the city’s public schools will be required to offer computer science to all students.
Meeting that goal will present major challenges, mostly in training enough teachers. There is no state teacher certification in computer science, and no pipeline of computer science teachers coming out of college. Fewer than 10 percent of city schools currently offer any form of computer science education, and only 1 percent of students receive it, according to estimates by the city’s Department of Education.
Computer science will not become a graduation requirement, and middle and high schools may choose to offer it only as an elective.
But the goal is for all students, even those in elementary school and those in the poorest neighborhoods, to have some exposure to computer science, whether building robots or learning to use basic programming languages like Scratch, which was devised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to teach young children the rudiments of coding.
At least two other American cities have recently made commitments to offering computer science to all their students. Chicago has gone the furthest, pledging to make a yearlong computer science course a high school graduation requirement by 2018, and to offer computer science to at least a quarter of elementary school children by then. The San Francisco Board of Education voted in June to offer it from prekindergarten through high school, and to make it mandatory through eighth grade.
Technology companies, which have been criticized for having very few female and minority employees, have supported these efforts, partly to expand and diversify the pool of qualified job applicants. Google and Microsoft have contributed to Chicago’s initiative, and San Francisco has received financing from Salesforce, Facebook and Zynga.