At Silicon Slopes, we believe every child should have equal opportunities to learn and that quality education should be available to youth despite their ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or background. “We need to equip our youth with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. Computer science is central to that and transcends industries. From arts to manufacturing to agriculture to technology to the social sector… all organizations are impacted by technology,” said Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight “We want to ensure every youth has the skills needed to create their own futures.”
In the days following Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, we have made incredible progress toward our shared goal of universal computer science education opportunities for K-12 students in Utah. Thank you to each and every one of you for raising your voices and rallying your communities around this important issue. Over 1,200 people have signed the letter of support with more signatures rolling in daily.
In response to the overwhelming groundswell of support and the commitment expressed by both the public and private sector to partner in pursuit of this goal, the Utah State Board of Education demonstrated outstanding leadership last week when they resolved to create a task force designed to examine access to computer science courses in the state. The goal is to ensure that each student in Utah will have access to computer science courses by a specific date in the future to be determined by the task force. Duties of the task force will include doing a gap analysis of the computer science offerings currently available, considering how rural areas can expand access, and considering both benefits and risks of providing access to all ages of students. The task force will also lead the creation of a comprehensive strategic plan that will solidify a shared definition of computer science, formulate mechanisms for funding, chart a path toward professional development solutions for teachers, and spearhead the development of K-12 computer science standards.
This work will build upon the strong foundation that has been laid by the STEM Action Center, in partnership with the Utah State Board of Education, with bills like SB 93, SB 190. In addition, last week at Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, the Governor launched the IT Pathways pilot program, a statewide initiative to help ensure the continued growth and success of Utah’s tech industry. The launch of IT Pathways is an important step toward meeting tech workforce needs. It will expand beyond just coders and software engineers by making it possible for people to enter the tech workforce at various stages of their learning and careers. The IT Pathways program will build bridges between high school, college, and business, preparing Utah students for brighter futures.
“The IT Pathways program is an important step toward advancing Utah’s tech industry,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “The IT Pathways program will more effectively align education with pressing workforce needs to ensure the growth and success of the state’s tech industry for generations to come.”
This is an incredible moment for the state of Utah! Creating equal educational opportunity for youth across Utah will take cross-sector partnership and persistence. We have ways for individuals and companies to get involved. Learn more and JOIN US HERE.