SPEAKER: Mr. Harris. Come on in, Mr. Harris. Get up a little [INAUDIBLE]
All right. One of the best things about this event is the opportunity to connect with friends you haven't seen. Well-- what schools y'all trying to [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah. Right there. Poughkeepsie you don't-- y'all just raise your hands.
[INAUDIBLE] I know some folks in theater. [INAUDIBLE] Friends of Ithaca, we haven't seen you all summer.
Thank you, [INAUDIBLE], for joining us. Come on in.
Yeah, you meet Miss Carter. Now.
A few more moments. Folks, come on in, and settle in.
All right. We enjoyed an outstanding new teacher from Cornell University. Obviously, we're in their backyard. They're just feeder schools, from my understanding. We have a great partnership. All the major initiatives that we have [INAUDIBLE] have some indirect or direct connection to Cornell, so we appreciate the partnership.
One of the most exciting projects, from my perspective, is happening in the country right now is what's happening in New York City with New York City Tech. The partnership [INAUDIBLE] the city and what they're building here. [INAUDIBLE] outstanding [INAUDIBLE] wanted to frame the why, the theory, the theory and research. You're going to hear much about the how from the speakers for the rest of the day.
I said to someone the other day, every young person should be learning how to code, and every educator should be embedding code in their curriculum. And they looked at me like I was a little crazy. But I think when you hear from some folks who are going to come to the stage you're going to understand why it's important.
I'm not going to show pictures today, but I do have a little four-year-old at home. And she's already engaged in a coding app after having had a conversation with Dianne Levitt. And Daddy knows nothing about how to code, but I have a four-year-old at home now, who's teaching me what to do. Again, [INAUDIBLE], and that's why we're here today, is to talk about how to create anchors, how to empower them, and how to learn from them. And with that, I'm so happy to welcome Miss Diane Levitt to the stage. Welcome, Dianne.
DIANNE LEVITT: OK. So first I just want to make sure-- can everybody hear me? That's great. So I'm really excited to be here this morning from New York City campus of Cornell Tech.
My sister taught me to read the summer I was three. That's actually little me. We didn't have money for summer camp and she was bored, so we played school. But when I got to the first grade, I was reading on a fourth-grade level. You know-- reading for four years. And the school sent a note home to my parents-- no more reading at home.
My teacher said it was too hard to keep me busy.
A few months ago, I sat in a principal's office of an all-girls public high school in Queens, eating pizza and talking about the future with nine students. They wanted to talk to me about careers in technology. Nine earnest, diverse faces looked at me across the table, excited to think about their ideas for education and employment beyond high school. One of them told me she had learned to code from the Hour of Code. And another taught herself Python-- the coding language-- from YouTube. A video.
You might be shaking your head in amazement at the tech fluency our kids seem to naturally acquire. Well, we are all struggling to update the operating system on our iPhones. But what I thought when I left that wonderful lunch was not just how remarkable these remarkable kids are. What I thought was, what an incredible amount of time we are wasting not getting these students systematized exposure to the tech rules and content that drives the world that we all live in.
So wait, you may say. They have iPads and laptops at school. And that is great. And, I want to say, Ithaca has been the vanguard of getting 21st-century tools into the hands of your kids, and you are to be congratulated. But the T in STEM does not stand for tools.
When I was in middle school, we had a 1:1 pencil program. But that pencil did not make me a writer. What made me a writer was learning the vocabulary and syntax of language, reading other people's great writing, writing myself, and having teachers and peers review what I read, and show me where it worked, and where it didn't.
Today, we welcome these tech-savvy kids, and their less knowledgeable peers by making them power down when they come through our doors. Yes, we give them laptops, we flip instruction, we blend learning, but we almost never give them the keys to the technology kingdom.
We don't teach them how the software and hardware they're using work, despite the fact that we know they are very curious. We don't give them the tools to innovate, we don't create the problem-solving pathways that supports so much other learning. It's like my first-grade teacher. We're essentially telling them to stop learning more than we know-- or more than we are ready to teach them.
You might say, as a middle-school social studies teacher said to me a few weeks ago, what does this have to do with me? It's got nothing to do with my subject matter. It's not in the standards. It's not on the test. Why does it matter? It matters because our students crave relevancy. They know that much of what we are required to teach them may never be useful.
By ignoring technology, we miss the opportunity to give them something that will engage them more deeply in school and their education. It matters because computer science is essentially a problem-solving discipline. And learning the skills, the strategies that underlie computing will give them a whole new set of tools for learning other subjects, too. It matters because that's where the jobs are now and will be, for the foreseeable future. Lots and lots of jobs. And fewer than half the number of trained American students for those jobs.
It matters because of equity. Women and minorities are underrepresented in tech majors and jobs. In fact, across the board, women, African-Americans, and Latinos are in the tech workforce at about half the rate that they're in the general workforce. Half the rate. That doesn't only mean that half as many are getting these high-paying jobs, it means that the tech industry, and all of us, are deprived of their voice and their contributions. Why is this?
So let's look at the AP CS test-- AP Computer Science data. It's not the only measure of computing in K-12, but it's one measure. It's easy to get this data. AP CS is offered by about 10% of high schools in the US. And I want to say, Ithaca high school has a really robust computer science course offerings. You are probably in the top 2% of high schools in the country.
So this graph is really hard to see, and I apologize for it. But the lines that matter are the one at the top and the one at the bottom. Little thing [INAUDIBLE] do this. Look. The one at the top is AP US History, and the one at the bottom is AP Computer Science.
So in 2012, almost 440,000 kids took the AP US History test. And just under 24,000 took the AP Computer Science test. That's about 5% as many students taking AP CS as taking AP US. And it's about 0.2% of all AP tests taken.
I'm not saying there aren't lots of jobs for history majors, or that history is not an important discipline. Actually, understanding history is crucial to understanding the world we live in, but so is understanding computer science. And I know for a fact that there are more employment opportunities for computer science majors.
And you may be surprised to learn that. There were three states in which no girls took the AP Computer Science test. Eight states in which no Latino students took the AP Computer Science test. And 11 states in which no African-American student took the AP Computer Science test. And the pass rate for these three groups is lower than for white males.
One more revealing fact-- in New York State, there are eight teaching certificates for agriculture. There are four for home economics, two for travel services, three for Afrikaans, even one for sewing machine repair. There is no teaching certification for computer science in the state of New York. New York's not alone. This is true for most states in the country. But this is a big reason why we have no computer science classes because we have no computer science teachers. We have teachers who are knowledgeable and know it, but we don't have a training and a hiring mechanism for that.
So perhaps we can agree that we need to get our students and ourselves to digital-ready. Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California System, and the former governor of Arizona, and the Homeland Security Secretary said it very well-- "Public schools were designed as the great equalizers of our society-- the place where all children could have access to educational opportunities to make something of themselves in adulthood."
"--the place where all children could have access to education opportunities to make something of themselves in adulthood." Like her, and I suspect, like you, I believe that we make a promise to children that we're going to get them ready for the world. And today, that world is digital.
But what does that really look like for a K-12 teacher? You might fairly say, I think we've got enough on our plates with Common Core, next-generation science standards, students with a wide range of means and abilities, new technology that we've got to learn and master, budget challenges. I get it. I do.
I also understand that most of us are not subject matter experts when it comes to technology. For instance, I have my Bachelor's degree in Women's Studies and my Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher.
When I taught a lesson to teachers recently on sorting algorithms, I was definitely way out of my comfort zone. But I believe we can all get to the place where we understand the basics of computing and learn how to get out of our own way by becoming our kids' technology coaches-- by changing this part of their education from listening to doing.
And we should all understand how computing relates to our discipline because no matter what you teach, it does. You may know that Cornell Tech is a new campus of Cornell University in New York City focused on the digital disciplines and the information age.
The campus overlays business, computing, and engineering disciplines. With the key technology areas of media, health, and developed environment. To create a rich, interdisciplinary network of research and graduate education. It also has a core commitment to K-12, which is why, even though I'm working on a graduate school campus, my goal is to bridge the university on the campus to the K-12 education system, both in New York City and here in Ithaca.
As we speak, we're developing curriculum that I think will help make teachers and students computationally literate. We want you to understand the way software-- monitor, algorithm, code, and debugging effect your life. We want all your students to see the academic and clear paths available to them if they're interested.
We think every student is entitled to this literacy. Remember, we don't just teach soccer to kids who are going to play in the World Cup. We don't just teach music to children who are going to Juilliard. We think this is a part of everyone's learning to get them ready to be great citizens in our democracy.
So it seems like a huge jump to make a difference but it doesn't have to be. A few years ago, our students had no regular access to computing education, but things are changing. Last year, Code.org and others launched the Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week. Perhaps you've heard about it or participated in it on your own or with your students.
The Hour of Code is an opportunity for everyone to learn computer science for an hour. There are lots of resources online that made this possible without computer science teachers. Almost 40 million people participated. The original videos launching the Hour of Code were deliberately timed to coincide with when high school students were enrolling in classes to try to drive more computer science enrollment.
The College Board just released preliminary data on AP Computer Science tests for 2014. AP Computer Science is now the fastest growing AP course in the country. One third more students took the test this year, in 2014 than in 2013. A third more students.
The representation of female and African-American students rose 8%. The representation of Latino students rose 10%. The numbers still do not reflect our population, and we have lots of work to do. But now we know that even this modest effort-- one hour-- can make a huge difference.
I want you all to be part of this revolution where we redesign the T in STEM. I hope all teachers and students in this region participate this year in Hour of Code, which is in the middle of December, and then go on to look for other ways to build computational literacy because coding is really just a piece of computing. You know, coding is really just the language we use to tell the computer what we want it to do.
Try an online class at the Khan Academy, Code.org, or Codeacademy. Cornell Tech will be providing the curriculum we are developing to the Ithaca City Schools and others in this area at the same time we deliver it in New York City. I want you to reach out directly to me if you want something more, or something sooner.
Whatever you do, whoever you teach, I want you to urge your students-- all your students-- to believe they can and should know more than you do about the digital world and to be their coaches, and mentors, and their cheerleaders on this journey.
Thanks very much.
Absolutely. We've got lots of time for questions, I think.
SPEAKER: A couple minutes, yeah.
DIANNE LEVITT: OK. Sorry, I didn't mean lots of time. I meant just a very short amount of time. But I'm really happy to answer questions that anybody has.
DIANNE LEVITT: I will not [INAUDIBLE]. So-- yes. But I'm really easy to find, and I hope that you will reach out to me.
SPEAKER: All right. Thank you, Dianne.
DIANNE LEVITT: Thank you [INAUDIBLE]
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Computer science education, while on the increase, is still lacking in the nation's public schools, particularly among girls and underrepresented minorities, said Diane Levitt, director of K-12 education at Cornell Tech.
Levitt outlined Cornell Tech's commitment to promoting these skills for students in New York City and in Ithaca during the E3 (Engage, Educate, Empower) Conference at Ithaca High School, July 30, attended by educators across the region.