The CSforCA coalition, whose mission is to ensure that all students in California have access to high-quality computer science (CS) education, held its Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Sacramento, California to urge legislators for their support of bills AB 1054 and AB 1251. By equipping elected officials and their staff with data, research, and voices from the field - including educators and industry professionals alike - they will be able to make more informed and evidence-based decisions about the future of computer science education in California.
Both bills AB 1054 and AB 1251 work together to ensure equity and access to CS courses for all students, regardless of their race/ethnicity, gender identity, income level, or zip code. Despite being home to Silicon Valley and a variety of other industries also affected by computer science, California lags behind other states in CS equity and access. Assemblymember Berman’s AB 1054 bill would require all high schools to offer at least one CS course, leveling the playing field for students and preparing them to succeed in today’s modern, digitized society.
To expand on these efforts, Assemblymember Luz Rivas’s AB 1251 would broaden the teacher pipeline by allowing science teachers to be authorized to teach CS courses.
Throughout the day, the CSforCA coalition and partners met with nine California legislators to explain the bills, introduce the CSforCA coalition and its mission, and highlight the need for expanding CS access and equity in California. One of the main takeaways from the panel discussion was the importance of increasing access to CS courses for high school students – because every student deserves a CS education, regardless of whether or not they pursue a CS career. California lags in CS equity and access, and current CS students do not reflect the demographic diversity of the state. Only 5% of high school students are able to take a CS course and rural schools are 2 times less likely to offer CS coursework than urban schools.
Those who were in attendance at the panel were: Julie Flapan (CS Equity Project), Lia Nitake (Technet), Allison Scott (Kapor Center), David Palter (SVLG), Paula Nazario (CS Equity Project), Sarah Boot (Amazon), Amy Brown (College Board), Colin Hawley (College Board), Hannah Weissman (Code.org), Jessica Sawko (California STEM Network), Jose Guaro (Former CS Student), Voleck Taing (SVLG), Robyn Hines (Microsoft).
The CSforCA coalition also held a policy Lunch and Learn Summit with a panel for legislative staffers to learn more about the two bills, ask questions, and provide information to their offices. One highlight of the panel was advocate Jose Guaro, who shared his experience first as a high school student who had access to CS courses, then as a CS major at UC San Diego, and now as a software engineer at Southwest Airlines. The Kapor Center, TechNet, and Code.org also weighed in on the importance of increasing access to CS courses and how the state can support our shared goals.
Here at CSforCA, we believe that computer science education is necessary in today’s increasingly digitized world – and every student deserves to be equipped with the knowledge, tools, and resources to successfully participate and thrive in modern society. The All High Schools Offer bill will address systemic gaps in computer science education, providing all students equitable pathways for success, and we look forward to watching this bill progress.