Partnership announced to train teachers in computer science
Photo: William Luther, Staff / San Antonio Express-News
Source: Alia Malik
U.S. Representative Will Hurd speaks at the lectern Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 at Bibliotics about a new initiative to prepare more local teachers to teach computer science to middle school students.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, announced Wednesday that 40 middle school math teachers in his vast congressional district will receive low-cost training in March to integrate computer science into their curriculum.
“Coding is the language of the 21st century economy,” Hurd said at a press conference at the BiblioTech South branch on Pleasanton Road. “If our students can’t speak it, they’re going to be left behind.”
The training will be provided by the nonprofit Bootstrap, through the University of Texas Center for STEM Education. Four tech companies — Dell, Intel, Facebook and Brocade — donated a total of $35,000 to fund the training, said Carol Fletcher, deputy director of the Center for STEM Education. The Texas Education Agency will provide a smaller amount of matching funds, Fletcher added.
The teachers can apply on Hurd’s website by the end of January to receive the three-day training at the end of March. Breakfast, lunch and transportation will be included, as will lodging for teachers coming from more than 60 miles away.
Hurd was re-elected last month to the 23rd Congressional District, which stretches west from San Antonio’s suburbs to the Mexican border.
The superintendents of North East and Southwest Independent School Districts — both in Hurd’s district, which curls around inner-city San Antonio — praised his effort Wednesday. North East will pilot the program at Lopez Middle School, said Superintendent Brian Gottardy.
Andrea Connor, a seventh-grader at Lopez, remembered using computers in kindergarten to learn her vowels and consonants.
“I’m not really sure what I want to become when I’m older, but I do know I want it to be technology-based, because our future lies in computer science,” she said.
Training 40 teachers will expose an additional 5,000 middle school students to computer science in the fall, Hurd said.
Hurd was inspired to focus on computer science in high school, while interning at the Southwest Research Institute. He became a Central Intelligence Agency operative and joined a cybersecurity company after leaving the agency. He said San Antonio has the second-highest number of cybersecurity jobs in the nation, behind the Washington, D.C. area.
Texas also has about 42,000 unfilled computing jobs statewide, even though those jobs come with an average salary of $89,000, Hurd said.
“We need to change that, and that means getting to these kids sooner,” he said.