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Why CS? Why Now?

Our goal with CS4All is to ensure that students across the district are afforded the opportunity to receive world-class CS instruction, regardless of the type, size, or socioeconomic status of a school’s students. This policy is designed to encourage and motivate Chicago Public School students to pursue post-secondary preparation in the various fields of computer sciences. This policy is further intended to provide direction to schools for the inclusion of appropriate computer science instruction within the curriculum in all schools and grade levels. It requires an understanding on all levels from the entire community to work to increase the diversity of computer science and the acceptance of all types of students.

This work to increase the diversity of computer science in CPS is essential because minority students and women are critically absent from the field of computer science. Participation in computer science related post-secondary programs and computer science related jobs/careers in Chicago and elsewhere has seen limited inclusion of minorities and women in this expanding, lucrative field. Overall, both advanced degrees in computer science and technology-sector jobs are dominated by white men. Less than 20% of undergraduate computer science degrees were awarded to black and latino students combined in 2014, and similarly only 18% graduates were women.

Nationwide, low-income students and students of color report having less access to computers, computer science classes and computer science and technology focused clubs. In the 2014-15 school year, 86% of CPS students were defined as “economically disadvantaged” and the household median income of all CPS students was around $25,000 dollars a year. This lack of access is compounded by the lack of diverse computer science role models in students’ lives. Recent research suggests that students are more likely to pursue computer science if they see themselves represented in the field, and right now there are precious few women, black or hispanic computer scientists visible in popular media. Additionally we must not neglect to mention the need to make computer science accessible to special student populations, including diverse learners, English Language Learners, and other identifiable special populations who also often face a lack of representation and accessibility to computer science.

The following resources examine the statistics in computer science and the field of technology as a whole and provide feedback and advice for next steps:

Computer Science Education Statistics

Changing the Face of Technology