Editorial: The Union Wants a Computer Science Class
We, The Union, believe the absence of an Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science is somewhat ironic given our geographic location. Despite being placed in the famous technologically-advanced Silicon Valley, we do not offer students the opportunity to enroll in an AP Computer Science class during the actual school period. In previous school years, there was an option to sign up for the class as a period on the computers in the MHS library. However, the chance to learn more about the technology that surrounds us everyday has been lost due to a “lack of interests” or “not enough people to sign up.”
Students are able to take a computer science class that is taught by business teacher Andrea Hutchinson and teacher Scott Keller during zero period. The class is similar to one taught at the University of California, Berkeley to help introduce potential computer science majors to the basics of coding. The program used is called SNAP! and allows students to drag “blocks” of coding together to create a program. SNAP! helps students build codes without the use of sophisticated languages that requires keen attention to every detail. However, the fact is that it is being offered before school does not appeal to many students who would prefer to take it during school when they would be able to focus. Also, students should be offered a more advanced computer science class, perhaps one that involves more than just the bare basics of what you can do on a computer. The current class gives students an idea of what computer programs should be able to do, but there is a lack of in-depth detail in creating a program or any codes. Rather than actually teaching how to code, the morning class is more of an introduction to computer science.
At the beginning of the year, the school launched an online class via a third party website for those who wanted to take AP Computer Science as an alternative to help in preparation for the AP Exam in May. The class was supposed to count as credits for the school. Only recently was it found that the only possible alternative for students to increase their understanding of coding outside of school would no longer count as credits. Because of this, many students who were enrolled in the class decided to not continue with the coursework. As a school, this discourages students from participated in classes that could potentially influence them to pursue a career in the technological field, such as computer science.
Since we are moving into this “Information Age” and teachers are being encouraged to create more technology-based assignments, we should focus more on classes that will benefit us in such a high-tech environment. Creating an AP Computer Science class should be considered a top priority. Not only will such a program peak the interest of our tech-savvy students, but advanced computer skills can only help in their future endeavors, both in and out of school.
Also, assuming students will earn credits from this AP class, then they will be more likely to gain scholarships in this field. Looking farther than a scholarship, students may be able to get internships in one of the many Silicon Valley companies. Google, Facebook, and Apple have been know to have the most competitive internships for computer science tasks. Success in such a competitive field is more likely ensured if students have a background in a more advanced class, such as AP Computer Science.
The purpose of attending high school is to become exposed to subjects that we can learn about to pursue in the future, and maybe turn into a career. The lack of an AP Computer Science course severely limits our futures, especially considering the overwhelming amount of new jobs that are being offered in this field in our area, If we cannot take this class during school, it is not likely that we will find time or resources to take it outside of school. Also, as soon as this class is taken outside of the six-period school day, it becomes “extracurricular,” and therefore less of a priority, whether we want it to or not. Thus, it is ironic that a school based in the Silicon Valley that is also trying to become more technologically advanced does not utilize its location as an advantage by implementing an AP Computer Science course.