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Learning to Code is Not Enough

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A Black Girls Code coding session.

Black Girls Code works to increase the number of women of color working in technology by introducing girls to computer science.

Credit: Bebeto Matthews/AP

A decade ago, tech powerhouses the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon helped boost the nonprofit, a learn-to-code program with a vision: "That every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of their core K–12 education." It was followed by a wave of nonprofits and for-profits alike dedicated to coding and learning computer science; some of the many others include Codecademy, Treehouse, Girl Develop It, and Hackbright Academy (not to mention Girls Who Code, founded the year before and promising participants, "Learn to code and change the world"). Parents can now consider top-10 lists of coding summer camps for kids. Some may choose to start their children even younger, with the Baby Code! series of board books—because "it's never too early to get little ones interested in computer coding." Riding this wave of enthusiasm, in 2016 President Barack Obama launched an initiative called Computer Science for All, proposing billions of dollars in funding to arm students with the "computational thinking skills they need" to "thrive in a digital economy."

Now, in 2023, North Carolina is considering making coding a high school graduation requirement. If lawmakers enact that curriculum change, they will be following in the footsteps of five other states with similar policies that consider coding and computer education foundational to a well-rounded education: Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Nebraska. Advocates for such policies contend that they expand educational and economic opportunities for students. More and more jobs, they suggest, will require "some kind of computer science knowledge."

From MIT Technology Review
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