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New York City plans to make computer science mandatory in all public schools

New York City plans to make computer science mandatory in all public schools


The mayor is proposing a 10-year deadline in order to train enough teachers

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According to estimates from New York City's Department of Education, only 10 percent of public schools in the Big Apple offer classes in computer science, and just 1 percent of the student population ends up receiving any training in the subject. But as The New York Times reports, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to change all that, announcing a 10-year deadline to train enough teachers so that every student in the city can receive at least some exposure to a discipline that provides essential skills for the fast-growing tech sector.

The move by de Blasio follows similar commitments by cities like Chicago and San Francisco. The effort highlights not only the opportunity to prepare students for jobs in a rapidly expanding industry, but to broaden and diversify the base of workers with this skill set. The tech sector has faced growing criticism over its lack of women and minorities, and data shows that when computer science is optional, it is mostly white and Asian males who sign up for the elective.

Along with the challenge of preparing roughly 5,000 new teachers, New York will have to figure out how to squeeze yet another requirement into the schedule of already overburdened students. A teacher interviewed by The New York Times at a Bronx high school that already requires computer science in middle school said it is often easier to engage students on the topic because the reward can be interacting with a game or app that they create themselves.

"I’ve literally had a conversation with a student where she’s saying, ‘I really don’t like math,’ as she’s walking me through a JavaScript function to have an interactive photo gallery on a web page that she had also built from scratch," Ben Samuels-Kalow, a Bronx teacher, told the Times. "I looked at her and said, ‘This is harder math than what you’re doing in your math class.’"