We believe that continued investment in STEM education is the driver for creating a skilled workforce that will grow and sustain our national economy. Executing a bold vision takes bold leadership. As indicated by Brenda Wilkerson, the Mayor of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools CEO are investing in resources to help make Chicago a global hub of technology and innovation. The bold, ground-breaking Computer Science for All initiative includes aggressive structure, support and key performance metrics to bring CPS teachers and students quickly up the STEM/STEAM learning curve. Through this comprehensive initiative, we will see improved teacher capacity to deliver STEM curriculum and increases in the percentage of students interested in a career in STEM. Through public/private partnerships, such as the Early College STEM School program, we are learning how to provide role models for our children in emerging careers, and we are learning how to fast-track positive outcomes that can accelerate entrepreneurship and improve our local economy. This is hard work because it requires touching everyone in the “food chain”. But just imagine the possibilities for our children, and for their children. Congratulations to the entire CS for All team and Thank You!—Shelley Stern Grach
The Computer Science for All Initiative is an innovative Computer Science education program that provides equity, empowerment, and opportunities that maximize the innate potential of every student to become upstanding citizens, committed to lifelong learning, able to transform and advance their community, nation, and world. Our aim is to democratize computer science for all CPS students and to revolutionize STEM education in the process. This effort has potential to not only transform the educational experience for all Chicago Public School students, but to also provide a model for districts across the country.
The Computer Science for All Initiative was launched on December 9 of 2013. Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Chicago would take the unprecedented step of providing Computer Science education for all of its students, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Having begun our work as a district at the high school level, we are excited to expand into all high schools within 3 years and to implement a graduation requirement within 5 years.
Equally aggressive and the most exciting is the innovation into all elementary schools. Computer Science curriculum is new to all but a handful of our elementary schools. This work gives us the ability to impact at least 25% of all elementary schools (approximately 125 schools) within 5 years, endeavoring to perfect a K-8 implementation model that will allow for the accelerated saturation of the remaining 75%. This ground-breaking effort will impact our students by strengthening their critical thinking, creativity and scientific reasoning skills. These skills will propel students into high school, especially those most at risk, better able to stay on track and graduate in 4 years while exposing them to college and career options.
Brenda Darden Wilkerson is the Sr. Manager for Computer Science and IT education at Chicago Public Schools. She leads the Computer Science for All initiative which will add computer science education to all Chicago Public Schools, K-12, building towards a CS graduation requirement within 5 years.