FlagshipKansas.Tech is sending this letter of support to the Kansas Board of Education in support of improved Computer Science education across our state.
Now the Board of Ed needs to hear from you. Read the letter, share it with your network, and add your name to the list of supporters at the bottom of the page. As always, thank you for all that you do for our great state.
Dear State of Kansas Board of Education Members:
In 2019, the Board of Education made progress to advance computer science education with the development of statewide computer science standards. We applaud the state’s efforts and want to assure you that you are not alone in your work.
We developed FlagshipKansas.Tech after identifying a persistent and pressing need to raise awareness of the growing technology industry in Kansas, reinforce an innovative approach to workforce development, and support the new realities that are facing education. Why did we feel qualified to do this? Our members are leaders in the technology industry, uniquely positioned at the forefront of change taking place in our state. They are the businesses creating the future of our state economy.
At FlagshipKansas.Tech, we represent tech sector employees, educational institutions, students, and employers across all 105 counties in Kansas. Our membership includes more than 22,259 member employees and 58,873 students enrolled at our public and private universities. Our industry drives $7B to the Kansas economy – with 40% of those jobs outside of the KC and Wichita regions.
We are an organization that does our homework. (Thank you to every teacher who drove this good habit into our life-long behaviors.) We’ve read the data and know from our own first-hand experience as employers, educators, and parents the positive impact of bringing decision-making, problem-solving, and taking time to learn the ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ of life back into the classrooms. And we know that helping educators make these changes will benefit us all. We applaud your desire to ensure that Kansas lead the way in success for EVERY student and we stand with you.
We believe that our students do not have enough access to learn the computational thinking and problem-solving skills embedded in Computer Science that they need today. As you consider the recommendations before you, we’d like to ask you to consider the following:
Allowing Computer Science to Count Toward an Existing Graduation Credit Promotes Diversity. Currently, students who take computer science courses in the state can only count computer science courses (where offered) toward an elective. Currently, Kansas is one of only two states across the country that do not allow students to apply their computer science courses toward a core graduation credit. According to Code.org, of the 48 states that allow CS to count, 30 allow it to count toward a science credit. Most of those states (22) require three science credits for graduation, like Kansas. When other states have allowed Computer Science to count, they see more students and those students are more diverse socioeconomically and ethnically. They see more young women join these courses as well. We know that removing this barrier increases diversity.
Creating a State Plan for Expanding Computer Science Improves Equity. You have taken positive steps forward in defining K-12 computer science standards and bringing together a task force to make recommendations. We know that the next step to ensure equitable access across the state to computer science education is a comprehensive statewide plan led by a Computer Science Consultant. A common statewide plan with specific steps for expanding computer science over the next few years, built with broad stakeholder engagement and a strong vision for the state’s goals around computer science, would help ensure that schools have an equitable opportunity for students in rural or urban districts of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Funding Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers Improves Outcomes. In 2017, Kansas colleges and universities did not graduate a single new teacher prepared to teach computer science. Additionally, with the funding issues in education the past several years, we have struggled to ensure our current teacher workforce is equipped for the new challenges in teaching computational thinking across the board. To address this critical shortage area, Kansas should provide resources for professional learning to prepare in-service teachers from diverse backgrounds to teach K-12 computer science. This will expand the capacity for in-service teachers and as a result, access for students across Kansas.
Our organization and our members are prepared to continue to support the continued development of computer science degree programs at our Regent’s universities. We are impressed with the rigor with which curriculum will be developed and instructors will be endorsed and credentialed. We will work with all parties to support viable, sustainable funding for this important work.
We sincerely appreciate the time that you provided during your December meeting to connect with Kansas students to learn about coding and the opportunities for learning in our schools. And, we thank you for your hard work. Please know that you are not alone in your efforts to position Kansas by leading the world in the success of every Kansas student.
Executive Director | FlagshipKansas.Tech | Kansas | Districts 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
Representing 22,259 member employees and 58,873 students