Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rural areas can help revitalize local economies by training more students in computer science

Gina Green teaches computer science in Bolivar, Mo.(CNN photo)
Computer coding, a fast-growing industry, could help revitalize struggling rural economies if more of those areas concentrated on educating students, Matt McFarland reports for CNN Money. "There are more than half a million open computing jobs nationwide, according to But students growing up in the countryside aren't prepared for them. Rural students are far less likely than their peers in cities and suburbs to gain exposure to rigorous computer science training."

The College Board's Computer Science A course is its fastest growing AP course, with enrollment doubling in the past five years, McFarland writes. Barbara Ericson of Georgia Tech told him that urban students are more likely to enroll in it. 

One problem in rural areas is there aren't enough qualified teachers to train students, McFarland writes. Another problem is funding. "If budget cuts happen, computer science, which generally isn't part of a core curriculum, may land on the chopping block." Also, a 2015 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of rural school boards believe computer science classes are important, compared to 52 percent from urban areas.

Gina Green, who teaches computer science in rural Bolivar, Mo., told McFarland, "It's imperative that in rural America that we say, this is an option for you. All these jobs are disappearing. All across the nation, these traditional jobs are disappearing. I think it's an opportunity for these kids to achieve the American Dream."

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