Class of 2017, seems scary to think about, doesn't it? Try being the parent of a child who will be in the class of 2017!! Yeah, that's me! Holy Cow, how did that happen?? Yes, my oldest will be a freshman next year. We went last night to "8th Grade/Explore Night". We basically found out how she scored on her entrance exam (outstanding, thank you very much - Honors placements) as well as pick her classes for freshman year.
In the packet of paper, they gave us to sort through was a list of "Graduation Requirements". As we settled in the "Theater" for the presentation and to sort through her scores, options, etc we were appalled to see that to graduate in 2017 the only requirement for "computer education" or technology is only a 1/2 a year!!! What? Seriously in 2013, we are predicting that the class of 2017 would be ready for college or the world they will live in with a 1/2 year of computer education?? That's the same requirement as driver's education for Pete's sake!!
Being knee deep in the computer industry and seeing daily the shortage of qualified programmers, make that qualified US, American programmers, not to mention women, programmers, we found this astonishing!!! In the cafeteria where we should meet the "Department Heads" Dave noticed that there was not a department head available for "Computer/Tech" so he inquired and was told there was not one (not sure if at all or just not available last night)!! He said how can that be in 2013? He was informed that they are teaching them amazing things in the "Business" classes, like how to use Word or keyboard shortcuts?!?! Seriously?? Our 8 year old, 3rd grader can do that!
It's no wonder that places like Code.org exist, to help kids today get "excited" about programming or technology. Or that in this article "Microsoft Tries New Approach to Computer Programmer Shortage" by "The Institute" that Microsoft is trying new approaches to the "Computer Programmer Shortage". Also, take into account the gender gap in programming or technology. In this article by Forbes, "STEM Fields and the Gender Gap: Where are the Women", this is a reason they cite "The problem starts as early as grade school. Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science, which is problematic considering studies show a lack of belief in intellectual growth can actually inhibit it." Another organization of note is Girls Who Code. They note on their home page that "a 2011 US Department of Commerce report showed only 14% of engineers are Females"!
With all these programmer shortage articles, the abundance of open positions in US based companies for qualified programmers as well the continually growing number of US college graduates who are out of work. According to an Associated Press Report from April 2012, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 53%. Can you help but wonder if more had pursued a degree in computer science or technology and went into becoming a programmer that number would be far lower?
I think it's important for States, High Schools, and College's to help shape the future of our children. Change the graduation requirements. And, I think we should all support Code.org and Girls Who Code in their efforts to make learning technology more fun or interesting so that more students will see the possibilities in a future in the tech industry.