- Microsoft's Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program is helping match hundreds of rural, urban and suburban schools with computer science curriculum and professionals for both intro and AP courses, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Via a co-teaching and lab support model, the program aims to assist in closing a tech skills gap, building a pipeline to computer science degree programs and careers while also giving professionals a volunteer opportunity to act as mentor figures for students.
- According to Microsoft Program Manager Joanie Weaver, the program provides an easier introduction to computer science concepts that could be more intimidating if experienced for the first time at the college level.
The past several years has seen rising educational interest in STEM concepts like computer science and coding due to a significant skills gap in the workforce. For example, data from Code.org shows only around 43,000 new computer science graduates entered the workforce last year despite there being close to a half-million open jobs in the field.
Key to meeting workforce needs is a concerted effort to simultaneously close gaps around gender and ethnicity. Part of doing that involves introducing students to these concepts earlier in their educations to eliminate stereotypes and stigmas, such as the bespectacled Poindexter in a cubicle or the Dungeons & Dragons nerd typing away in a basement. Working to connect students to a variety of professionals can expose them to role models already in the field who look like them.
This is also where partnerships with companies like Microsoft and its TEALS program are most helpful. Due to the realities of the current state of education funding, many schools and districts must increasingly rely on collaboration with corporate and nonprofit entities — local and beyond — to make ends meet when it comes to expanding programming and curriculum.