We realized that in order for initiatives to effectively make computing inclusive, we need to begin with a shared and collaboratively generated definition of equity to which all are accountable. Below is SCALE-CA’s current understanding of the meaning of equity in computer science education and how it gets enacted. This shared understanding of equity continues to evolve and inform our own personal understanding and agency as well as the larger project’s goal to build systemic leadership capacity for equitable implementation of CS.
For more information about the process we developed to iteratively define and deliver equity, please see the paper we presented at RESPECT 2021.
California is a wellspring for creativity and innovation; diverse perspectives, rich cultures, and intellectual vigor thrive in communities across our state. Our public education system can be a powerful engine for advancing our human potential. From transitional kindergarten through postsecondary pathways, each and every student deserves learning opportunities that inspire them and prepare them to thrive as full participants in California’s future. Yet, these opportunities are not fairly distributed. It is the responsibility of educators to address policy and program flaws that are barriers to students’ personal and educational growth, and economic advancement. It is our duty to speak up for those who are excluded, provide doorways for all, and foster productive connections, ensuring universal access to California’s great promise.
It is the position of SCALE-CA that all students should have access to a quality and culturally responsive computer science education. In order for there to be a equitable and sustainable system of computer science education for all children, there must be (a) acknowledgment of the unjust system of computer science education and its historical and current participation in institutional systems of oppression; (b) understanding of the actions necessary to transform computer science education policies and practices that do not promote equitable teaching and learning; and (c) accountability to ensure these changes are made and sustained.
- Certain populations of students have been systemically denied access to educational resources, opportunities, and experiences based on different facets of their identity including race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability.
- These inequalities often get reproduced in computer science education due to a lack of access to high-quality, culturally relevant/responsive/sustainable computer science learning opportunities for all students.
- In order for students to be fully engaged members of society, we must provide an education that, through the lens of computer science, encourages the exploration of issues that impact youth as a way to develop skills that lead to becoming articulate and proficient in the field.
- Computer science can empower students to be more than just consumers of technology, and instead be critical users and creators in all fields touched by technology, whereby they can find and use their voice, as well as promote issues of social justice.
- As technology becomes more intertwined in various aspects of our lives, we must empower students to be informed and educated members of society by developing their understanding of what technology is, how it functions, and its impact on our communities.
- Computer science is an emerging field of study that can lead to high-wage and high-demand careers; by actively inviting underrepresented groups into this space, we not only address socio-economic inequality, but create a technology sector that’s diverse, inclusive, and reflects the life experience of those that use digital tools.
- In order to develop an equity-based approach that centers students’ experiences, we must approach the computer science classroom through pedagogical, structural, and cultural lenses.
- The pedagogical lens requires us to be accountable for empowering instruction for all students. We must therefore
- recognize every child’s educational experience should be rigorous and relevant.
- recognize that every child is capable of learning.
- create classroom environments that are inclusive, safe, and respect and affirm every student, embracing and honoring their diverse and complex identities.
- discover and cultivate the unique talents and interests of every student .
- The structural lens requires us to examine existing structures and policies and make new ones. We must therefore
- ensure that resources and opportunities are not to be distributed equally, but according to different students’ needs.
- ensure that not only all students have access to computer science education, but exposure to those who are in different demographic groups than them in computer science classrooms.
- The cultural lens requires us to examine what are the belief systems that exist that cause our actions to favor certain identities over others. We must therefore
- acknowledge and challenge the institutional barriers impacting youth differently based on the way they look or where they come from.
- counter practices rooted in stereotypes about who can or should excel in computer science.
- recognize that people both present themselves and are treated differently in different contexts depending on how their various identities overlap and intersect.
- Equity in computer science education is not a goal, but a process by which we strive to ensure that every student is provided with what they individually require to learn and grow personally, academically, and socially, and when success and achievement is not predicted by any demographic or geographic factor.
- This work is challenging and involves constant collection and analysis of intersectional data on access and outcomes, as well as reflection on how we can fight inequity through standards, curriculum, professional development, and our understanding of our own identities and biases.
- The work of implementing high quality computer science pathways is a collective responsibility.
- Teachers must be empowered with high quality curricula and the necessary tools and training.
- Administrators must embrace, champion and prioritize the change of a young person’s education to include CS.
- Policy makers must produce quality legislation that ensures CS education is equitable, scalable, and sustainable.
- The professional sector must actively dialogue with educators as to how computer science is taught, who is hired, and what workplace environments are like for underrepresented populations.