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The Windy City Takes A Leap: Innovators in the Field of Computer Science

It seems the city of Chicago has decided to take the leap moving forward with plans that for some may seem hasty and for others won’t seem hasty at all. First reported in the Chicago Sun-Times and later in edtechmagazine.com, “Chicago Public Schools have set a course over the next “3-5 years to be the first urban district offering kindergarten through eighth-grade computer courses.” The initiative also calls for “every high school to offer a foundational computer science course.” What this initiative will do for Chicago Public Schools remains to be seen; however, the fact that CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have given the green light to move forward adding computer courses into the core curriculum is without a doubt innovative and a game changer. And, it will be watched closely by other schools (public and private) across the country.

What does this means for CPS and other school districts in the US? Ultimately, I believe it means that schools are ready to expand the core curriculum in ways that may finally take the US education system from the 19th to the 21st century. I also believe it means that like the UK and China, the US is ready “to bridge the digital divide allowing the next generation to truly get a jump-start learning the technical skills that their peers currently learn during their primary years.” Finally, I hope it will open the door to students learning another language (one that our students are learning outside the classroom every time they swipe a screen) because let’s face it “the new bilingual is knowing computer code writing.”

Whatever the outcome, I applaud Chicago Public Schools for their willingness to be pioneers and I hope other schools will take the leap into the next frontier in education. Educators have been talking about true technology integration for years, and we have always believe the best technology is fully integrated into the very fiber of the curriculum (not an add-on). What CPS is doing is taking technology integration to the next level. I’ll definitely be watching. tlb

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