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December 7, 2018

Coalition calls for expanding computer science education in Maine

Courtesy / Computer Science for Maine (CS4Maine) coalition
Courtesy / Computer Science for Maine (CS4Maine) coalition
Pictured from left to right are: Alexander Price and Andrea Cianchette Maker of Pierce Atwood LLP, both on behalf of Microsoft; Dani LaMarca, curriculum development manager at Code.org; Ruth Kermish-Allen, executive director of the Maine Math and Science Alliance; and Jason Judd, program director of Project>Login at Educate Maine.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and other entities on Friday unveiled a coalition to promote computer science education for all Maine students from kindergarten through grade 12.

Computer Science for Maine, or CS4Maine as the coalition is being called, aims to ensure that all K-12 students in the state — including those who have traditionally been unrepresented, such as females and minorities — have access to high-quality science education

Other founding members of the coalition are Microsoft, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Code.org, and Educate Maine. Additional members include 13 businesses, nonprofits and higher educational entities.

Why this matters

The initiative comes as fewer than 30% of Maine K-12 schools offer computer science education — despite the high number of computer job openings and that computing jobs are a part of nearly every industry. The coalition notes that Maine currently has more than 1,000 open computing jobs with an average annual salary of more than $79.000.

Maine also does not count computer science courses towards high school graduation requirements. In addition, less than a quarter (23%) of Maine high schools offered an advanced placement computer science course in the 2016-2017 academic year.

"Ensuring all Maine K-12 students have access to high-quality computer science education is a critical priority for expanding educational opportunities and growing Maine's workforce," said Jason Judd, Project>Login program director at Educate Maine, in a statement.

He added: "With the right investments to achieve our goals, more students will be exposed to knowledge and skills relevant to the high-tech world around them, potentially leading to lucrative jobs that Maine employers in every sector are looking to fill. This benefits Maine people, employers and our state's economy."

Here are the coalition’s goals

The coalition aims to achieve its goals through the following specific objectives:

  • Fund computer science professional development for Maine teachers
  • Offer computer science in all Maine high schools by 2022
  • Offer computer science learning opportunities for all grade levels by 2025
  • Allow computer science courses to count towards high school graduation requirements in schools across Maine
  • Determine and implement appropriate K-12 computer science standards.

The coalition was officially launched today at Educate Maine's 2018 Education Symposium in Portland, taking place all day at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. The gathering brings together more than 350 business, policy and education leaders to hear from education experts, to learn from one another, and to honor other Maine educators.

Organizations interested in joining the CS4Maine coalition and individuals interested in volunteering can sign up at www.CS4Maine.org.

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