Today, I am thrilled to stand with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as she leads an initiative to bring computer science education to every public K–12 school across Rhode Island. The governor’s focus on computer science provides Microsoft Philanthropies with a great opportunity to partner in helping to achieve our own mission to expand digital inclusion and empowerment for everyone. An important element of that mission is to enable all young people to learn computing skills. We believe that computer science will be a foundation for most future jobs and careers, and for participating fully in society.
We are proud that our TEALS program is part of the CS4RI consortium announced today, alongside the University of Rhode Island and Brown University. We particularly welcome the great support and enthusiasm of the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEA RI) and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers (RIFT). We believe that the state of Rhode Island has taken a significant step forward in leading this resourceful – and sustainable – approach to ensuring that all young people have access to computer science education. CS4RI offers an innovative blueprint for how communities can spur economic development and close our nation’s skills gap. Most important, CS4RI brightens the future for all students, especially by providing new opportunities for young women and young people of color.
“Our kids deserve the best opportunities in the 21st century tech-driven economy, so we need to do everything we can to help them get ahead by developing the skills that matter,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said. “Part of turning our economy around and creating jobs is making sure every student, at every level, has access to learn the new basic skill: computer science. Thanks to the partners we have assembled for this initiative, I know we can achieve this goal.”
Recently, both local and federal governments have made commitments to close the computer science skills gap. In December, the president signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gives states and localities the ability to target resources to STEM education, including computer science. The president also recently announced Computer Science for All initiative, which Microsoft fully supports. We applaud the 29 states that allow students to count computer science credits toward high school graduation, and we’d love to see all 50 states “Make it Count!”
All of these are positive developments, but we have a long way to go. By working together, we can help more American youth fill the 1.4 million computer science-related jobs that will exist in the U.S. by the end of 2020. More important, computer science education prepares all students for tomorrow’s global economy, regardless of their career path.
Rhode Island’s CS4RI is the first opportunity we’ve had since launching the program in 2009 to scale TEALS to so many new high schools at one time. We are excited and ready to take on challenge! This past fall, we announced the expansion of the TEALS program to grow fivefold in the next three years, reaching 30,000 students nationwide. This school year alone, TEALS has more than 550 high-tech professionals representing 200 companies volunteering their time in more than 160 high schools across the country. These volunteers are paired with classroom teachers who then build their own expertise in computer science instruction. The curricula we use in TEALS classrooms is a mix of critical thinking, problem-solving and applied skills designed to inspire students to better understand the increasingly digital world around them. The unique partner-teaching program along with first-rate curriculum creates both the heart and the mind of our TEALS work. It is a real and sustainable solution to solving the American student skills gap.
Please join us! If you’ve had the opportunity to receive an education in computer science and would like to help others access the same opportunity, visit http://www.tealsk12.org/about/ to learn more.