Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain knows the experience of a false peak: the exhilaration of finally reaching what has looked like the top of the mountain all day, only to summit and see that the real peak is further on and higher up.
Sometimes these historical apex momentsâ€”like the public recognition of the importance of computer science education culminating in the White Houseâ€™s announcement of the Computer Science for All initiativeâ€”can seem like a false peak. Itâ€™s all there: the challenge, the endurance, the euphoria of reaching the top, and then the difficult realization that there is still a long way to go.
But: there is how things seem, and then there is reality.
For those of us who have been working in computer science education for some time, the two months since President Obama announced the CS for All initiative have been nothing short of amazing. In the blink of an eye, the relative moonscape that was the U.S. computer science (CS) education space has become a Los Angeles freeway at rush hourâ€”and we could not be happier about that. Evidence that our kids need access to computer science education abounds, from Bureau of Labor Statistics data to corporate anecdotes, and with new state-level efforts, coding camps, non-profit organizations, schools and traditional curriculum providers all entering and strengthening the conversation, there is now a real opportunity for our kids to get that education. And I donâ€™t just mean kids with techie parents or kids in affluent schoolsâ€”Computer Science for All challenges us to make CS education available to every American student, everywhere. Itâ€™s an important, and worthy, challenge.
Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m especially proud that my company, Oracle, is formally making a Computer Science for All commitment today. Although weâ€™ve been working to advance computer science education globally for more than two decades, weâ€™re usually pretty quiet about the work we do. Through our flagship Oracle Academy program, we work to serve educators and provide them the skills and tools they needâ€”including academic, vendor-neutral curriculumâ€”to bring computer science to life with passion in the classroom. We teach teachers and help fill the CS education supply pipeline. We engage with a range of partners, organizations, and events to introduce kids to computer science and inspire them to become tomorrowâ€™s technology innovators and leaders. In all, we invest more than $3.3 billion in resources annually to help educators bring computer science to more than 2.5 million students in 106 countries.
At Oracle, we have been successfully partnering with public education for a long time. We know that an investment in education is very much like climbing a mountain; the children who were primary school students when we started this work in 1993 are just now 20-somethings in the workforce. Itâ€™s a marathon, not a sprint, and seeing an investment yield real results takes endurance, patience, and faith. The investment we make in introducing a first grader to computer science today will not realize its full potential until the year 2034, or beyond.
Given timelines like this, there is the potential for Computer Science for All to be a false peak in computing education. It is a much needed infusion of focus, passion, and funding into a vitally important issue, and we, as a nation, are now at a high point where we can look proudly back at where weâ€™ve been, and what weâ€™ve done. But we can also more clearly see the work still ahead. Of the people and organizations on this peak today, who will become discouraged and turn away when the wins arenâ€™t quick and the resources become scarce? And who will persevere?
Those of us who are committed to supporting education, though, know that achieving success in education isnâ€™t like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, a freestanding mountain surrounded by plains. Itâ€™s more like mountaineering in the Rockies; for every peak you climb, there is always another summit to reach. Make no mistake: Computer Science for All is a summit. It is an honor for me, as a part of Oracle, to join this strong and committed Computer Science for All cohort. Now, more than ever before, access to computer science education is the key to economic growth and social mobility. Weâ€™re all on this journey with our childrenâ€”for our children. Wonâ€™t you join us?
Â This post was written by Oracle, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.!Â