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Borough President Wants to Bring Computer Coding to Every Brooklyn School

By Leslie Albrecht | November 3, 2015 4:44pm
 Eric Adams announced Code Brooklyn, an initiative to get every school to participate in Hour of Code.
Borough President Wants to Put Computer Coding in Every Brooklyn Classroom
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PARK SLOPE — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wants to make computer science a part of every student's experience in the borough's public schools, starting with a 60-minute crash course next month.

Adams on Monday announced Code Brooklyn, an initiative to give every Brooklyn public school student the opportunity to learn computer coding — a job skill that will help them reap the benefits of the booming tech sector, Adams said.

"Our future is being written in zeroes and ones, and coding will help our young people write that future while adding several zeroes to the ends of their salaries,” Adams said. “Code Brooklyn is a call to action for improving access to the job training and education necessary to compete in our 21st century economy.”

Code Brooklyn has a five-part strategy that's meant to dovetail with Mayor Bill de Blasio's recently announced Computer Science For All initiative, an $81 million public-private partnership that aims to give every student in New York City access to computer science within 10 years.

The first step of Code Brooklyn starts next month. Organizers hope to have every public school in Brooklyn participate in Hour of Code, an international event that gives students a one-hour introduction to computer science.

So far, about 50 percent of the borough's schools have signed up to participate, Adams said.

Brooklyn Code also calls for a boroughwide analysis of the resources schools need to support computer science programs, including "STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) labs, smartboards, computer carts, general wiring, and Wi-Fi capability," Adams said.

Adams said Monday he'll fund those needed upgrades with money from his capital budget in future years. The borough president has already made tech upgrades for schools a funding priority, allocating $13 million of his $60 million capital budget this year to STEM and tech-related upgrades at schools.

Code Brooklyn also calls on Brooklyn Borough Hall to serve as a "go-between" between City Hall and Brooklyn schools, as the city rolls out Computer Science for All over the next decade.

The final goal of Code Brooklyn is to make computer science a required subject in city schools, as well as to create a teacher accreditation for computer science. Those two steps will require state legislation, and Adams has teamed with state Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon on the issue.

Adams announced Code Brooklyn at P.S./M.S. 282, a Park Slope school that serves many low-income students and has embraced coding even though it has outdated computers. The school recently received $20,000 from City Councilman Brad Lander for its coding program, and Adams allocated $35,000 for the initiative. Adams said Monday he wants to make P.S./M.S. 282 a "poster child" for innovative technology programs.

While the city's Computer Science for All focuses on teacher training, Code Brooklyn is aimed at building demand for coding by focusing on students, said Code Brooklyn lead organizer Rob Underwood, executive director of the Teach CS Foundation.

"We're intending to be the bottom-up complement to the DOE's top-down strategy," Underwood said. "We're trying to light the fire within the community and create a school culture that's excited about coding."