Perched in front of a folding table, the CEO of recently-merged Cloudamize was selling a few dozen T-shirts emblazoned with a hashtag of his creation: #TEaCH. It’s supposed to be read “Teach Tech” but everyone just calls it “Teach.”
Moul’s initiative has a goal that may sound simple at first: adding tech education to the core curriculum taught at public schools in Philly and Pennsylvania. Moul dissected why this was imperative in an Inquirer op-ed that month. Aside from a Twitter account, this was all we knew.
have resigned from all my boards (but PIDC) to focus 100% of my volunteer efforts on getting tech ed into our Philly K-12 schools. #TEaCH
— Bob Moul (@bobmoul) September 14, 2017
It was time for a chat.
Technical.ly Philly: So, Bob. Why is now the time to focus on this?
Bob Moul: A number of things all came together at the same time and sometimes you just gotta jump on ’em. I spent the summer visiting schools and then I was introduced to other people working on this front. At the same time, we had the exit and now the transaction is behind us. As for the boards, I wanted to just retool my focus for the next part of my career. I feel like I’ve made my contributions to the tech community, and I’ll keep doing that, but now’s the time to shift gears and focus on getting tech education in our schools.
TP: Why is this a goal you want to pursue?
BM: If we want more diversity in tech, we have to work on diversifying the pipeline of tech talent. Some of the kids in our city’s schools simply aren’t considering the task. It’s 2017 and it’s been 40 years since I was taught BASIC in school. I just can’t believe tech isn’t part of the core curriculum yet.
TP: What are some of the challenges you foresee toward getting to that end goal?
BM: Part of this initiative is just about giving the rallying cry that it’s going to be difficult but we can do this. Some hurdles are: Where does the time come from in the school day? Where do we get the teachers or how do we train our existing ones? And, yes, money is going to be an issue but I don’t rank that as high as the rest. Those issues will have to be worked through.
TP: What’s the endgame for #TEaCH?
BM: Well, the current status is that it’s just a campaign, but I’m evaluating turning it into a nonprofit.
TP: It seems like great timing for something like this to get off the ground, what with Philly’s active tech scene and the thirst for talent. But what’s Philly risking if the push to add tech to K-12 isn’t successful?
BM: First: I think it will be. Its time has come. We cannot keep systematically holding our kids back and not preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century. Rather than think of black and white, I think the question is to what degree will we succeed and when that will be.
The first week of December, Moul is planning to go live with “CS for Philly,” a localized version of a national effort during the Obama administration that also called for computer science to be added to the core curriculum.
“I’m very excited about that,” Moul said. “A broad coalition of people are already working on the initiative.”
More to come on this, but Moul said he’ll eventually reach out to the tech community with specific asks around things like internship programs.
“The problem won’t go away” Moul said. “If we don’t make this happen, we’ll be having the same conversation 10 years from now. It’s not a question of if, but when.”
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