In July, Seattle-based and tech-backed nonprofit Code.org announced its 10th policy recommendation for all states “to require all students to take computer science (CS) to earn a high school diploma.” In August, Washington State Senator Lisa Wellman phoned-in her plans to introduce a bill to make computer science a Washington high school graduation requirement to the state’s Board of Education, indicating that the ChatGPT-sparked AI craze and Code.org had helped convince her of the need. Wellman, a former teacher who worked as a Programmer/System Analyst in the 80’s before becoming an Apple VP (Publishing) in the ’90s, also indicated that exposure to CS given to students in fifth grade could be sufficient to satisfy a HS CS requirement. In 2019, Wellman sponsored Microsoft-supported SB 5088 (Bill details), which required all Washington state public high schools to offer a CS class. Wellman also sponsored SB 5299 in 2021, which allows high school students to take a computer science elective in place of a third year math or science course (that may be required for college admission) to count towards graduation requirements.
And in October, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi appeared before the Washington State Board of Education, driving home points Senator Wellman made in August with a deck containing slides calling for Washington to “require that all students take computer science to earn a high school diploma” and to “require computer science within all teacher certifications.” Like Wellman, Partovi suggested the CS high school requirement might be satisfied by middle school work (he alternatively suggested one year of foreign language could be dropped to accommodate a HS CS course). Partovi noted that Washington contained some of the biggest promoters of K-12 CS in Microsoft Philanthropies’ TEALS (TEALS founder Kevin Wang is a member of the Washington State Board of Education) and Code.org, as well some of the biggest funders of K-12 CS in Amazon and Microsoft — both which are $3,000,000+ Platinum Supporters of Code.org and have top execs on Code.org’s Board of Directors.
Most kids have no clue how a computer works, let alone how to program one. It’s not difficult but an essential skill in today’s society.
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