NY mayor proposes computer science classes for all public schools

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) will announce Wednesday a plan to require all city public schools to offer computer science within 10 years, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.

The plan will mandate the schools offer the subject but not that they make it a graduation requirement. The Times reported that bringing the plan to fruition will require training nearly 5,000 teachers.

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The proposal is expected to cost $81 million, which will include contributions from donors, over the next decade. Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, is reportedly supporting the plan, as is AOL’s foundation and the Robin Hood Foundation.

Currently, 1 percent of students in the public school system receive instruction in computer science.

The move to incorporate computer science into the educations of the 1.1 million students served by the public school system reflects the growing value of programming skills and concerns about a lack of diversity in the booming tech economy.

“I think there is acknowledgment that we need our students better prepared for these jobs and to address equity and diversity within the sector, as well,” Gabrielle Fialkoff, the city’s director of strategic partnerships, told the Times.

Many of the nation’s most prominent tech companies have largely male workforces, with tiny percentages of black and Hispanic workers. That imbalance is particularly pronounced when it comes to technical jobs.

Just one percent of tech employees are black and two percent are Hispanic at Google, according to the company’s most recent data. Around the world, women make up 16 percent of Facebook’s technical workforce.

The companies have moved to improve those numbers with moderate success. New York is also following in the footsteps of other cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, that have taken steps to expand access to computer science education.