Future of Work

Major American Companies to Schools: Expand Access to Computer Science

By Alyson Klein — July 12, 2022 2 min read
Hispanic teenage girl writing and using computer
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

States must act urgently to make sure every K-12 student has access to computer science education, wrote more than 500 top business, nonprofit, and education leaders in a July 12 letter to the governors and lead education officials in all 50 states.

The signatories include tech giants Amazon, Microsoft, and Google parent company Alphabet as well as companies that work primarily in other sectors of the economy, such as American Express, AT&T, Delta Airlines, Hasbro, Nike, Starbucks, UPS, and Walgreens. The letter also garnered signatures from education organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers and the nonprofit Khan Academy.

“Every student should learn computer science in the classroom,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, in a statement. “When I was young, I didn’t see myself as someone who could work in tech, but I took a computer science class in college, and it changed the course of my career. I believe all students should have the opportunity to explore how computer science could impact their lives.”

It’s a big deal that so many top businesses most people may not think of as tech companies support the goal of expanding computer science education, said Hadi Partovi, the CEO of Code.org, in an interview.

“It helps people realize that this is about every industry, that every company is becoming a technology company and every company is suffering with the lack of preparation that our schools are giving to our students,” he said.

All 50 states have taken some action to broaden access to computer science, a signal that the move has bipartisan support, according to the letter. But right now, only slightly more than half of states—27—have adopted a policy to give all high school students access to computer science courses. Of those, just a dozen strive to give all K-12 students access, according to Code.org.

Currently, only 5 percent of high school students study computer science, the letter says. And only a slight majority of high schools—51 percent—offer classes in the subject. That’s despite high demand for computer science skills. There are currently about 700,000 open computing jobs, and only about 80,000 computer science graduates a year.

Schools may be better positioned than ever to expand their computer science offerings, the letter argues.

See Also

conceptual illustration of a ladder leaning against the wall of a maze.

For one thing, K-12 students are far more likely to have access to a district-issued laptop or tablet. During the pandemic, the number of middle and high school students in 1-to-1 computing programs soared to 90 percent, up from roughly two-thirds before the pandemic, according to an April 2021 Education Week Research Center survey cited in the letter.
“As schools reopen, let’s use those laptops to teach computer science,” the letter says.

What’s more, due to a spike in remote working opportunities, rural students may not even have to leave their hometown to take on high-paying tech jobs once they graduate from high school or college. Now, “even the smallest town can become a tech hub; the key is education,” the letter says.

Top companies listed computer science among the skills they’d most like to see K-12 schools focus on, according to a story in Education Week earlier this year. But they also emphasized so-called soft skills, such as the ability to collaborate as part of a team, and interpersonal communication, and resiliency.

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Profession Webinar
Professional Wellness Strategies to Enhance Student Learning and Live Your Best Life
Reduce educator burnout with research-affirmed daily routines and strategies that enhance achievement of educators and students alike. 
Content provided by Solution Tree
English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Future of Work Want Girls to Pursue STEM Learning? Hear What Female NASA Scientists Have to Say
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM-related careers.
2 min read
Ninth graders Darci Hamer, left, and Avery Stimmel make small adjustments to the path of their robot at Pennsbury High School in Falls Township, Pa., on March 19, 2018. Bucks County schools are involving girls in STEM programs.
Ninth graders make small adjustments to the path of their robot at Pennsbury High School in Falls Township, Pa.
David Garrett/Bucks County Courier Times via AP
Future of Work Want to Get Girls Interested in STEM Careers? Try Minecraft
Two teachers in Louisiana started an after-school club to get girls interested in STEM.
2 min read
A screenshot from the game, Minecraft Dungeon.
A screenshot from the game, Minecraft Dungeon.
Business Wire via AP
Future of Work How a NASA-Supported Robotics Program Is Preparing Students for STEM Careers
A NASA-supported program partners with schools to implement robotics in the classroom.
2 min read
Rita Murphy Elementary School kindergartener Jakinley Scholin works on an Ozobot activity. The Ozobots are small, handheld robots that move and follow a marker line.
Kindergarteners in North Dakota work on a robotics activity that uses Ozobots. In some Hawaii schools, students use VEX robots to learn robotics concepts and to help prepare them for STEM careers.
Kristina Barker for Education Week
Future of Work 3 Strategies for Helping Students Navigate the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
Educators urge allowing students to present intriguing dilemmas to debate.
3 min read
Kids Coding In School