By Hank Pellissier
Computer programming has never been taught as a core subject in schools, but perhaps it should be.
Alas, there's no guarantee that computer science will be offered at your child's school; in fact, there's a good chance it isn't. Despite the chorus of future-focused experts advocating for better computer science education in our K-12 schools, many schools aren't meeting the challenge.
The U.S. may be the birthplace of IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and umpteen other computer science-inspired giants, but in the past two decades we’ve fallen behind other countries when it comes to pumping out trained computer scientists. American universities still boast some of the best science and engineering graduate programs, yet many of those spots are filled by foreign students. According to the 2006 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, the number of foreign graduate students enrolled in science and engineering fields increased by 45 percent between 1996 and 2006, while enrollment for U.S. citizens/residents increased only 8 percent.
"We are not preparing our students out of high school to compete in the area of science and engineering very well," explained John Borrelli, dean of the Texas Tech University graduate school.
What’s next — kinder code?
Doug Rushkoff, CNN columnist and author of Program or Be Programmed, is one of the nation’s leading digital crusaders. He argues that our schools need to incorporate computer programming into our core curriculum or get left behind. "It's time Americans begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic,” he writes. According to Rushkoff, there is such a dearth of skilled programmers in the U.S. that firms like Google and Facebook buy entire companies, simply to gain access to their code-literate employees. “If you know how to code, you can likely get a high-paying job right now,” writes Rushkoff. “You will be enabling America to compete effectively on both the economic and military frontiers, where we are rapidly losing our competitive advantage due to our failure to teach ourselves code…"
Making sure our kids learn code isn't just smart career planning, Rushkoff contends, it's practically a patriotic duty.
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