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Education Opinion

Computer Literacy’s Proper Place in Schools

By Walt Gardner — December 25, 2017 1 min read

There’s no doubt that coding is a valuable skill for students to acquire. But whether it helps students as much as it helps tech companies is the real question (“Taking a second look at the learn-to-code craze,” the conversation.com, Dec. 4).

I say that because the evidence is hardly persuasive. In “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom,” Larry Cuban says that such skills do not necessarily assure higher-wage jobs. The primary beneficiaries are tech companies that reaped a $4-billion windfall in 1995. I haven’t seen the latest figures.

I understand the need to teach all students basic computing skills. But I think the public has been oversold on their indispensability. Yes, students who possess such competencies are likely hired faster than students without them. Yet only half of college students who majored in STEM get jobs in their field after graduation. Moreover, spending millions of dollars on computers diverts spending on lowering class sizes and raising teachers’ salaries.

So let’s put the coding craze into proper perspective. It’s vital but not a silver bullet for the undeniable ailments afflicting public education in this country. That’s going to be one of the major issues in the years ahead.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.