Members of the Code the Town team presented at this month’s Region One Superintendent meeting to promote the Hour of Code initiative and generate awareness for the value of computer science education. Susan Valverde (Sylvan Learning of RGV), Dalinda Alcantar (Border Kids Code), and Alex Meade (Mission EDC), were invited to the Nov. 20 meeting by Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez, Executive Director of Region One.
The purpose for promoting the Hour of Code is to bring awareness to the importance of learning computer science, a necessary 21st Century skill. Sylvan Learning of the Rio Grande Valley, recently embarked on a STEM focused initiative and partnered with Mission EDC to help bring knowledge and skills to Mission residents. “Many assume that with the rapid evolution and increased use of technology, raising the level of digital literacy in a community is effortless,” said Susan Valverde, Executive Director of Sylvan RGV. “It only seems that way when a community takes the time to plan, stays focused and invests in the appropriate resources. We applaud Mission EDC for having the foresight and leading the region in this effort, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Region One has over 400,000 students, 98% of which are Hispanic and 86% are classified as economically disadvantaged students. As expected, the superintendents from throughout Region One were very receptive and pledged to help spread the word at their respective school districts. “These kids have amazing ideas and we are going to give them the tools to change their future,” said Dalinda Alcantar, Co-Founder of Border Kids Code. “What we want to do is to take that information and transfer it into an actual skill set in computer science.”
According to Code.org, by 2020 there will be 1 million more computer science jobs than students who can enter the labor force as skilled workers. Most of the available jobs in this field likely won’t be filled by minorities. The same Code.org study shows that in 2012, of the 3.6 million computer science Advanced Placement exams administered in U.S. high schools, less than 3,000 were taken by African-American and Hispanic students. “Promoting computer science, as well as other STEM courses, is a MUST for the RGV should we ever expect to change our economic status,” said Alex Meade, Mission EDC CEO.
The Hour of Code is being spearheaded nationwide by Code.org, a public 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. They believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.
The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime, but the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. To register, please visit http://hourofcode.com/ or for more information, visit www.codethetown.com or contact Mission EDC at (956) 585-0040.