Within the next ten years, every New York City (NYC) public school will have to offer all students computer science courses under regulations announced today by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Mayor said the requirement will present every child in the city’s public school system a head start to learning the skills necessary to work in New York’s rapidly growing technology sector.
Experts say the initiative, although a necessary one in today’s technology driven world, will present the city’s Department of Education a major challenge.
They say at present less than ten percent of NYC schools offer computer science education and there is no state computer science teacher certification, with no “pipeline” of teachers qualified in computer science coming out of colleges. City officials say 5000 teachers will have to be trained to meet the pledge.
However de Blasio and supporters of the initiative are determined the program will work with the Mayor saying the goal is for all students, even those in the poorest neighborhoods, to have access to some form of computer science, be it basic programing skills or learning to build robots.
Education experts say some of NYC’s “elite” public schools have offered computer science courses for years, but budget constraints and lack of qualified teachers have prevented most public schools from introducing the subject.
The city plans to spend $81 million over 10 years on the initiative, with half of it coming from private sources, which it hopes will include technology giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook Zynga and Salesforce, which have supported similar initiatives in Chicago and San Francisco.
NYC officials say there has already been financial support pledged from the Robin Hood Foundation, the AOL Charitable Foundation, and venture capitalist couple Fred and Joanne Wilson who are the financial backers of the Academy For Software Engineering, NYC’s first computer science focused high school.
Citing figures which show that between 2007 and 2014, technology jobs in NYC grew 57 percent, the director of the city’s Office of Strategic Partnerships Gabrielle Fialkoff said “I think there is acknowledgment that we need our students better prepared for these jobs and to address equity and diversity within the sector, as well.”