We expect our high schools to teach the skills essential to being a productive member of society. In 2012, computers are everywhere, and learning to code is just as important as learning how to read and write.
You are reading this on a computer—or a laptop, or a smartphone. That’s what people do these days: use computers. What many people don’t do these days is understand computers.
Computers are now an integral part of our everyday lives, and computer science (CS) education should be too. We are shifting towards an information economy, and computational thinking is going to be a prerequisite for any job. The goal of this crowdfunding campaign is to bring computer science to every high school, starting with a specific goal of teaching 1,000 students over the next six months.
Computer science education is essentially non-existent in American high schools. Only 5% of high schools offer AP CS, and many of these classes are outdated, boring, or both. We should be increasing our CS offerings at the high school level. Instead, CS education in America is declining, and over the past five years AP CS offerings have decreased by 25%. Very few students in this country are lucky enough to have a qualified and inspiring high school CS teacher.
Right now, it is too hard for high schools to offer computer science courses on their own. It isn’t a required part of the curriculum; in 41 states, CS does not count towards graduation. There aren’t enough CS teachers, and launching a program like this is too expensive for most high schools. To bring in qualified CS candidates as teachers, high schools would need to offer higher salaries to compete with industry jobs, and it would be costly to develop a new curriculum. Computer science education should be in every high school, but there is no indication that this is going to happen anytime soon.
That most high schools do not offer computer science education is especially dire given the current economic climate. Computer scientists are in a unique position. While the national unemployment rate is 8%, there are 100,000 CS-related jobs that can’t be filled.
CodeHS is a website to teach computer science to high school students and other beginners with no previous background. We provide an accessible, fun, and easy way to get started, with a focus on providing help from real people along the way.
The goal of this campaign is to teach 1,000 students. Some of you may be thinking, “Can’t you just put up a website and teach a million students?” At CodeHS, we believe that there is a big difference between building a fully automated website and the right way to teach. Most online education websites offer only content and tests but lack the human element crucial to effective learning: the teacher. The focus of CodeHS is to provide students with a real person to help them learn. We give debugging help and feedback on programming style on every single exercise. This level of attention is essential for absolute beginners.
The CodeHS team is Jeremy and Zach. We just graduated from Stanford University where we spent three years helping teach introductory computer science classes. Together, we helped teach over two thousand students to program.
We learned that the key to learning CS is having a consistent support system. Everyone gets stuck. Getting stuck is part of learning to program. But it can be especially frustrating when you don’t even know what questions to ask, or how to even start. Forums are not a replacement for teachers.
What We Are Going to Do
With CodeHS, we can teach basic programming to 1,000 high school students over the next six months. The money raised in this campaign will help pay tutors to troubleshoot code and give feedback, cover website and curriculum development costs, and help us integrate our platform with schools. We want to teach as many low-income students as possible, and we are going to make sure at least 300 are low-income students.
The lack of computer science education in high schools is a problem, but we can solve this problem together now. With the money from this crowdfunding campaign, we can bring CodeHS—a modern, fun computer science program—to a high school in your town. This campaign will allow us to make CodeHS free for high schools, kickstarting our effort to make CS a part of every high school curriculum.
How You Can Help
There are many ways you can help. $100 sponsors one student. $10,000 sponsors a school—either your school or another you think would benefit from our program. Help us get the message out there. Right now, there is a lot of effort directed at improving the economy and the education system in this country. Computer science education falls at the center of these two issues. By bringing CS to high schools, we can teach critical thinking and problem solving, promote STEM, and prepare students for jobs of the future.
We are collecting stories from people all over the country about why they want to learn to code, why it has been worthwhile to learn to code, or what you can do when you know how to code. Record a 30-second video and share your perspective. Listen to what students, teachers, and professionals across many industries have to say about the importance and impact of CS education.
Thanks, and don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org