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Make sure Santa Fe students can compete in global economy

February 11, 2019

As president of the Computer Science Teachers Association of New Mexico, I was excited when the Santa Fe Board of Education passed a resolution vowing to integrate computer science for all grades throughout the curriculum, the first commitment of its kind in New Mexico (“School tax vote will be first local election by mail,” Jan. 28).

I feel strongly that computer science literacy is essential for all students. There is scarcely a career path that can be imagined — whether in business, medicine, the arts, government or the sciences — where computers have not had a transformative effect.

If Santa Fe hopes to educate students prepared for 21st-century jobs and citizenship, our schools must offer all students a core understanding of technology.

Santa Fe voters have the opportunity to support our students and teachers in their pursuit of high-quality education. If voters pass the 2019 Ed Tech Note, which I believe they should, Santa Fe Public Schools will take computer science to the next level by updating hardware, building even stronger connectivity and modernizing computer labs by moving toward flexible “Innovation and Design” spaces.

When Santa Fe, voters approved the prior technology funding in 2016, it laid the groundwork for connectivity and educational hardware, software, teacher education and ongoing support. Santa Fe Public Schools is now leading the state on technology integration and is providing equitable access to education technology for all of its students. This new Ed Tech Note will continue this important work.

Computer science drives job growth and innovation, with computing jobs having over four times the demand of other jobs, and salaries almost 79 percent higher. It is also an important component of an education that addresses equity and helps close the “digital divide.”

Santa Fe has the opportunity to serve as a model for the state for this crucial new educational literacy, as essential as reading and writing in our world today. Steve Jobs said, “Computer science is a liberal art: It’s something that everybody should be exposed to and everyone should have a mastery of to some extent.” A “yes” vote from the community on this Ed Tech Note will give the district the capability to deliver this core skill of computer science education to its students.

Paige Prescott is president of the Computer Science Teachers Association of New Mexico, and executive director of the Computer Science Alliance. She lives in Santa Fe.

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