On Monday, Governor Gina M. Raimondo- joined by federal, state, and local officials, as well as representatives from business and education- launched the state's first comprehensive computer science education initiative. The Computer Science for RI (CS4RI) effort, in partnership with Microsoft, Code.org, colleges and universities across Rhode Island, and others, seeks to help every public school in Rhode Island teach computer science classes by December 2017.
"Our kids deserve the best opportunities in the 21st century tech-driven economy, so we need to do everything we can to help them get ahead by developing the skills that matter," Raimondo said. "Part of turning our economy around and creating jobs is making sure every student, at every level, has access to the new basic skill: computer science. Thanks to the partners we have assembled for this initiative, I know we can achieve this goal."
Keep reading to find out what key education leaders are saying about #CS4RI.
"We must ensure all students have the skills they need to compete in today's innovation economy and that means making computer science much more accessible for all learners," U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. said. "President Obama's budget includes funding for states and districts to increase access to computer science by providing training for educators, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. By offering computer science in every public school and every grade, Rhode Island has become the latest state to lead the way in offering computer science for all."
"The Department of Education is excited to partner with so many great leaders in education, technology and business to give all of our kids the digital opportunities they need to thrive," Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said. "We need to support and encourage students at every level to dream big, and get the skills they need to succeed."
"Increasing access to computer science statewide is an exciting initiative that we strongly support," Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals President Frank Flynn said. "This initiative will ensure that every student has access to computer science courses, and that all of our teachers have the support and resources they need to incorporate computer science fundamentals into their lessons, from K-12. Computer science, coding, and programming has become far more accessible to teach and learn, and it will better prepare our students for the careers of the future. We are particularly excited that this effort prioritizes professional development opportunities for our teachers."
"The Computer Science for Rhode Island Initiative will jump start the ability of Rhode Island schools to expose students to state of the art computer education, best preparing them to compete in technological areas of exceptional growth and demand," Rhode Island Association of School Principals President Don Rebello said. "Principals are excited to work with Governor Raimondo and the strong coalition she's built to expand access to computer science classes in schools throughout Rhode Island."
"For Rhode Island students to succeed in the ever-changing global economy, it is critical that they be digitally literate," Rhode Island Association of School Committees Executive Director Tim Duffy said. "This new initiative by Governor Raimondo will provide the essential knowledge to achieve this goal."
"Governor Raimondo's leadership on this comprehensive statewide computer science initiative is yet another example of the many public-private partnerships across post-secondary education in our state," Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island President Dan Egan said. "Faculty from our institutions are excited to partner across all institutions of higher learning in the state and to work with K12 schools on this important step in readying our workforce and building Rhode Island's economy.
"Governor Raimondo's initiative to provide opportunities for all students in Rhode Island to have access to Computer Science classes is an extremely attractive proposition for Central Falls," Central Falls School District Superintendent Victor F. Capellan said. "This initiative will bring our students preparedness to a level where they can be well-positioned to compete and thrive in a global job market while providing our teachers with professional development and resources to best support our students."
"It is critically important to highlight the numerous technology program and opportunities in RI public schools," Rhode Island School Superintendents Association Executive Director Timothy P. Ryan, Ph.D, said. "STEM programs, coding, blended learning, and use of complex software are some of the means by which students prepare themselves for their careers and personal development. Governor Raimondo's computer science initiative is an important step towards expanding access to these skills for all Rhode Island students."
"Governor Raimondo's computer science initiative provides the perfect platform for researchers within The Collaborative to explore the impact of connecting students with the skills they need for jobs in high-demand fields," College and University Research Collaborative Program Director Amber Caulkins said. "This initiative will prepare Rhode Island's workforce for the future and is another example of using research to inform data-driven, decision-making."
"URI is proud to be a partner in Governor Raimondo's exciting CS4RI initiative," URI Computer Science Professor Victor Fay-Wolfe said. "We look forward to working with RI schools to make sure our RI kids get the Computer Science education they need for their personal and professional lives, and the state gets young talented people entering its work force with topnotch computer science skills."
"Computer science (CS) is at the heart of what we do at the Academy for Career Exploration where high school students are already earning college credits for the CS101 course," Academy for Career Exploration Director of Operations and Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board Member Vanessa Toledo-Vickers said. "This is a basic skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility in the 21st Century. It is also key to the development of an innovation economy in Rhode Island."
"Governor Raimondo's CS4RI initiative will provide the support that is needed to effectively and efficiently align education with the needs of the 21st Century workplace," Academy for Career Exploration Head of School Mario F. Cirillo said. "Computer Science education is a critical skill at this stage and is necessary to truly help students meet the demands of college and career."
"The Governor's Computer Science initiative will help schools throughout Rhode Island prepare students for high-demand and high-wage jobs and advance the economic well-being of our state," RI School Superintendent Association President and Foster-Gloucester Regional Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Barnes said.
"The NAACP Providence Branch applauds Governor Raimondo for taking an important positive step in the right direction in narrowing the digital divide which severely handicaps communities of color who deserve the same opportunities that many others in our state have," NAACP Providence Branch President Jim Vincent said.
"Given the recent convening that LPI held to discuss wage and employment gaps for Latinos, we are pleased to see Governor Raimondo's initiative that provides students access and skills that will help them acquire high wage jobs in the Computer Science field," Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University Director Anna Cano Morales said.
"In my class, students work with various computer programming languages and programs, java, mit app inventor, robotc, scratch, Stencyl, Arduino, etc.," Shea High School STEM/Technology Teacher Verda Jones said. "It's about getting, hands-on, experience working with coding so that they can see and know that this is something that they can do. We want to break down barriers for our students, just take away the mysteries and put the magic in their hands, so that they can realize that they can create these video games, APPS, cell phones, and programs that they use and play in every day. Then, that's when they can see and realize that these skills translate to jobs, college, careers, and life-long learning and sharing. I have seen students at all levels academically and socially who immerse themselves in learning to program. I am amazed at what they can do, what they can create, what they can dream. Students create apps for their favorite radio station, interest calculators, stock market trackers, Apps for the school calendar, programs to run and operate robots. Any student with interest can learn to program, to code, and upon graduating high school will have a skill, and be marketable for careers and college."