(Photo courtesy of IBM)
Gov. Larry Hogan laid out a slate of policy initiatives Thursday aimed at growing computer science education in Maryland and engaging more girls and people of color to a field that’s notoriously dominated by white males.
The governor seized on the acronym ACCESS for the plan, which is short for Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide. The initiative developed after Hogan signed onto a push for computer science education with other state execs through the National Governors Association in July.
I am pleased to announce our administration’s ACCESS Initiative: Achieving Computer Science Collaborations for Employing Students Statewide pic.twitter.com/xgpbhq5Bdo
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) November 2, 2017
Along with growing the field, it’s got a direct tie to economic growth. Info from the governor’s office states there are 20,000 job openings for computer science–related jobs in the state. Further, the state had fewer than 3,000 computer science grads, and only 20 percent were female.
“In this rapidly-evolving job landscape, states that have access to a highly trained workforce will have a major advantage,” Hogan said at a news conference, according to prepared remarks. “Maryland simply must continue to lead the way, and closing this skills gap begins with a focus on education. We must spark the interest of students – particularly girls – beginning at an even younger age, and we must inspire high school and college students to pursue careers in computer science.”
It’s another sign that Hogan wants to back the state’s tech economy. He’s supported initiatives like expanding IBM’s P-TECH model to Maryland in the past, but this push indicates some moves at the policy level.
Here’s what the plan involves, per the governor’s office:
1.A partnership with Girls Who Code
It wouldn’t be a conversation about computer science education without acknowledgement of work that’s already being done by nonprofits everyday. In one move, Hogan is joining with the national nonprofit to push for more Girls Who Code clubs in the state that include people of color. Calling his initiative the Governor’s Club Challenge, he’s pushing to get political leaders, school districts and industry partners together to push the effort.
2. Computer science standards
Hogan wants to create standards for computer science education in the state. When the General Assembly heads to Annapolis early next year, Hogan will be submitting legislation for that lays out a framework for computer science curricula for grades K-12. He plans to collaborate with organizations throughout the state.
3. $5 million for teacher training
The pot of money will be made available to fund teacher professional development focused on computer science. Some will be used to fund grants for local agencies and schools to provide equipment and learning models.
4. A cyber workforce task force
A new group is being convened to identify potential pathways to cyber and IT jobs, as well as new ways to encourage more diversity in those fields. Bruce Spector, president of the Baltimore Cyber Range, and NSA’s Kain Emmel were identified as members of the workforce. A report is due in June 2018.