April 23, 2019
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Coalition launches effort to promote computer science education for Maine K-12 students

Community Author: Jen Webber
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Updated:

PORTLAND  — A Maine coalition supporting computer science education for all Maine K-12 students launched Friday at Educate Maine’s 2018 Education Symposium in Portland. Computer Science for Maine (CS4Maine) formed to ensure computer science is a subject area offered to all Maine K-12 students. Founding organizations of the coalition include the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Code.org, and Educate Maine. Additional coalition members currently include 13 business, non-profit, and higher education entities with more organizations joining each day.

In today’s ever-increasing digital economy, computer science is a basic skill needed by all students for success in the future. Hadi Partovi, the founder of Code.org said in an interview with Recode, “Whether you want to become an accountant, a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, you wouldn’t not study biology because you’re going to become a lawyer. You still learn the basics about everything, and learning computer science and coding is about as foundational a skill you can learn in the 21st century.”

In addition, computing occupations are a part of nearly every industry including healthcare, manufacturing, and information technology. According to Code.org, computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S. and make up 58 percent of all projected new jobs in STEM fields. Maine currently has more than 1,000 open computing jobs with an average annual salary of over $79,000, significantly higher than Maine’s average salary of $45,300. Salaries from these job openings total $85,377,720 each year.

Despite the high number of open computing jobs in Maine and that computing jobs are a part of nearly every industry, fewer than 30 percent of Maine’s K-12 schools offer computer science education. Maine also does not count computer science courses toward high school graduation requirements. Only 23 Maine high schools offered an AP Computer Science course in the 2016-17 school year. In 2017, 246 Maine students took an AP Computer Science exam, fewer than any other STEM subject area.

Maine also has low levels of participation in computer science education among traditionally underrepresented students, such as females and minorities.

CS4Maine’s five key objectives to ensure computer science is a subject area offered to all Maine K-12 students are:

  • Fund computer science professional development for Maine teachers.
  • Offer computer science in all Maine high schools by 2022.
  • Offer computer science learning opportunities in all grade levels by 2025.
  • Allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements in schools across Maine.
  • Determine and implement appropriate K-12 computer science standards.

“Ensuring all Maine K-12 students have access to high quality computer science education is a critical priority for expanding educational opportunities and growing Maine’s workforce,” said Dr. Jason Judd, Project>Login Program Director at Educate Maine. “With the right investments to achieve our goals, more students will be exposed to knowledge and skills relevant to the high-tech world around them, potentially leading to lucrative jobs that Maine employers in every sector are looking to fill. This benefits Maine people, employers and our state’s economy.”

Organizations interested in joining the growing CS4Maine coalition and individuals interested in volunteering are encouraged to sign up at www.CS4Maine.org.

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 About CS4Maine:

Computer Science for Maine (CS4Maine) is a coalition of business, non-profit and higher education entities whose goal is to ensure that all Maine K-12 students, including those who traditionally have been underrepresented, have access to high-quality computer science education.