Public Policy

Public Policy – Advocate for Computer Science Education

AAUW believes that high-quality public education is the foundation of a democratic society and the key to improving economic prosperity and gender equality.

As part of high-quality education, every student needs computer science education. Computing and computational thinking are increasingly important 21st-century skills. These skills lead the way for innovative solutions to all kinds of problems. Computing and technology knowledge and experience is in high demand in every industry. Digital skills are required in 71% of all US jobs. A computing career offers job security, high salaries, and meaningful work.  Only 26% of the computing workforce in 2019 were women.

Technology permeates every aspect of society. Computer science drives innovation throughout the US economy, but is marginalized throughout K-12 education. Inadequate computing education shortchanges all students. Computer science opens more doors than any other discipline. Computer skills will help students in any career—from architecture to zoology.  This matters greatly for girls and women.

Computer science needs to be integrated into all aspects of education. Just as students learn how to write an essay or how electricity works, it’s important for every student to have a chance to learn how the internet works, create a website and design an app. Coding provides hands-on activities in a virtual environment.  It teaches the skills to solve problems by practicing decomposition, pattern recognition, and algorithm development throughout K-12.  Integrating computer science into the arts and nature is what builds interest in young girls. Continuing that interest with data science and graphic programming in high school will help build our future workforce. Combining that with nature and outdoor learning also helps children learn the power of one action maker. Our own WHC member, Karen North, is connecting with Green Houston http://www.greenhoustontx.gov/ and the mayor’s office to build internships for our youth that combine conservation and computing.

Computer science is offered in only 46% of Texas high schools. Texas is in the process of creating a plan for K–12 computer science as required by HB 2984 (2019). A plan that articulates the goals for computer science, strategies for accomplishing the goals, and timelines for carrying out the strategies is important for making computer science a fundamental part of the state’s education system. Locally there is no long-range computer science education plan as part of visioning in SBISD or most other Harris County school districts.

Here are a few ideas you can do to promote computer education:

  • Write your Texas legislators to encourage them to fund computer education and help districts implement teacher training and computer science courses. Also request that computer science be required for graduation, as many states are starting to do. See the sample letters you can send to change policy from https://advocacy.code.org/ Look for the take action box and the letter to local elected official.
  • Write our congresswoman, Lizzie Fletcher, who is supporting HB 3266, a bill that provides funding from the defense department and will require every student in ROTC to take computer science.
  • Add Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet to your reading list to learn why we need to work together to promote change.
  • Learn about Reinvented Magazine written for women in STEM by women in STEM which tells the untold stories of brilliant and inspiring women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. https://www.reinventedmagazine.com/

Our AAUW voices together can create change that is urgently needed. See the 2015 AAUW Report “Solving the Equation for Women’s Success” and see why you are needed as a variable. For more information you can visit these websites:

Lastly, you can also join our AAUW-WHC WISE group to keep informed.

WISE Women

Please join us for a WISE Zoom Happy New Year on Monday Jan 4th at 10:00 as we share a “cup of coffee” and continue our Goodall conversation.  We will see what Jane learned about Chimps and Humans, and Humans and the Environment.  After learning about Animal Intelligence last month, the big question we answered was: Where is Waldo? Curious?? The answer will be shared on Jan. 4th as we wonder where 2021 might take us. You can sign up for her course at https://www.masterclass.com.

Please contact Karen North, at 713-789-6482 or knorth@me.com if you would like to join our Zoom conversation.  She will send out a link on Sunday, January 3rd

Karen North and Georgia Kimmel
Public Policy