In September of 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious plan to provide computer science education to all New York City public school students by 2025 as part of his administration’s Equity and Excellence agenda. The plan involves the Department of Education training about 5,000 teachers to teach the city’s 1.1 million public school students a new computer science centered curriculum. One year on from the mayor’s announcement, fewer than 1,000 teachers had been trained. Fred Wilson, the founder of New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education (CSNYC), a nonprofit launched in 2013 to implement computer science curriculum in the city’s public schools, thinks training teachers is not the issue, but rather raising enough money to find the program, “The issue is not getting the teachers excited to do it. I think the issue is having the funding to be able to pay for the professional development… “The demand is there, we’ve just got to supply it.”
Critics of the initiative cite cost as an obstacle for the program, but 2016 proved to be a successful fundraising year for the program. As of September 2016, the city had raised 20 million dollars, about half of the total private fundraising goal (altogether the target amount for the city is a lofty 80 million dollars). Large companies have given donations to CSNYC including Facebook, Quotidian Ventures, Warby Parker, and Etsy. According to CSNYC’s audited financial statements for fiscal year 2015, CSNYC had received a total contribution of $1,348,536 from public support revenue lines and had net assets totaling $361,596. CSNYC’s finances show a healthy revenue stream and dependable public funding sources. CSNYC has so far maintained committed to its $40 million goal.
As the program is still in its nascent stage, its affects on the city’s different school communities is likely more visible in the future. Analyzing the consequences of the initiative is the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at NYU. According to the Alliance’s website statement on the evaluation process, a qualitative review of both the educational organization of computer science specific teaching curriculums will together with a review of “short and long-term student outcomes.” The Research Alliance is teaming up with the Education Development Center to conduct the evaluation of Computer Science For All. The Education Development Center has national experience evaluating STEM education programs in the United States and is partnered with the White House.
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