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Talking to Administrators and Board Members About Computer Science

We talk to students every day. We talk to parents a few times a year. How often do you talk to your principal, superintendent or school board members? If it's not at least once a year, you're missing an important opportunity to get the word out about the vital role of computer science education in your district!

Here are some things that people "up the line" need to know:

  • There are standards for CS Education (http://csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/K12Standards.html). While providing your administrators with the standards document is nice, it would be even more effective if you were able to show them how your courses implement them. If your current courses do not map to the standards, this would be a good way to pitch a curriculum change to that course you've always wanted to teach!
  • The Computer Science Principles (http://www.csprinciples.org) project is well worth discussing with administration if you would like to add it to your curriculum. Even if you are not eligible to be an official beta site, there are several motivating curriculums shaping up and being shared.
  • Filling the national need for CS graduates begins in K-12. And, yes, there is a national need for people with these skills. It may help to point out that CS grads work in every sector, not just for Microsoft, Apple and Google. There is an article this week in US News and World Report about the energy sector hiring CS grads (http://goo.gl/hCl69).
  • Those CS jobs? They just keep cropping up very high in the rankings of best jobs! The 2012 rankings show that CS related positions take up 50% of the 10 best jobs in 2012 (2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th place). If your school board puts an emphasis on career readiness, this might be an article you should send to them (http://goo.gl/6g26U)
  • Computer science courses tend to be very engaging. If your district is promoting project based learning, differentiated instruction, mastery, etc. your courses may need very little alteration to be a point of pride.
  • Getting an appointment to talk to your principal or superintendent should be fairly simple, getting on the agenda of your school board meeting may take a little more planning. I recommend starting with the level of administration closest to you that you that you have not already turned into a supporter. Work your way up, but do it this year!

    School administrators of all levels respond well to a case study. You know that you have students whose lives have been improved because of a computer science course. Get their story and tell it (with their permission, of course). If and when you get on the school board agenda, bring a student or two, bring a recent graduate, and be prepared to tell a story about people, not about computers and curriculum. Give everyone all the links to all the resources they will ever need to read about the nitty-gritty, but tell them a story so they want to know more about this amazing discipline.

    Tammy Pirmann
    CSTA School District Representative

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