High Tech, High Schools
by Andrew Shilling
Jul 02, 2013 | 4197 views | 0 0 comments | 129 129 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Assembly Members Francisco Moya and Andrew Hevasi, Reshma Saujani and Jukay Hsu
Assembly Members Francisco Moya and Andrew Hevasi, Reshma Saujani and Jukay Hsu
In an effort to bring city schools into the technical age, public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani presented a plan that would require computer science classes in public high schools and colleges throughout the state.

As the US Department of Labor estimates 1.4 million computer science jobs in the market by 2020, Saujani says NYC will be the fastest growing technology hub in the country. She added that an estimated 57 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will focus on computing by 2018.

“Computer science education creates pathways to the middle class,” Saujani said. “Every student in New York deserves the opportunity to learn the technology skills necessary for jobs of the future.”

Assemblymen Andrew Hevasi and Francisco Moya worked together with Saujani to developed two bills to expand core curricula to include information technology classes. One (A.6540) would make these courses a requirement in high schools and the other (A.6543) at SUNY and CUNY.

“In New York State, curriculum is almost never ever changed by law,” Hevesi said, however he is confident that he will have the support of half of his colleagues at the State Assembly. “Then we’re going to go out and try to gather more.”

He added that he and Moya will send out letters to NYS Commissioner of Education John King for the plan targeting secondary schools and one to the chancellors of both SUNY and CUNY.

“With the growing importance of computing in society, the need for students to understand the fundamentals of developing and using computing skills,” he said. “Broad support for computer science education is needed to catalyze and reform.”

Both Moya and Hevasi joined Saujani last week in front of Forest Hills High School, located at 67-01 110th St., to show support for her candidacy for NYC Public Advocate and to present their plan for the state.

“The initiative Reshma and Assemblyman Hevasi have devised to integrate comprehensive computer education into the curriculum is a major step forward in arming our students with technological skills they need,” Moya said.

According to Jukay Hsu, the founder of the Coalition for Queens, just one of four developer positions have been filled in the computer science field to date.

“We need more schools like Forest Hills High School and other schools to get the training so that they can fill these jobs of the future,” Hsu said.

He thanked Saujani and the Assemblymen for their advocacy and explained that this is just the first step.

“We need to think about how to invest in our schools and our students for the future so they can change this requirement,” he said. “Hopefully more schools and students can have the opportunity to learn about computer science.”

Mike Zamansky, a computer science teacher at Stuyvesant High School, assured that students are ready for this integration.

“If you expose kids to computer science and technology, they will eat it up,” Zamansky assured. “There’s a lot of talent in the city and these kids are meant to do this…they’re just not having the opportunity.”

He added that schools don’t currently have any incentives to offer computer science or bring in new teachers in the field.

“It has the same footing as mathematics and science because it is so important,” he said. “If that can be made official, that’s a game changer.”

Saujani is the founder for Girls Who Code, a program she started in 2012 to develop computer-programming skills in underserved communities.

The program partnered with the United Federation of Teachers to launch Teachers Who Code in May to bring the same awareness to public school teachers throughout the city.

“Providing students with technological skills is critical for their success in the 21st century and for strengthening our domestic workforce,” Saujani said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this policy goal realized.”
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