The Epicenter of the Pandemic Recognizes a Chance to Transform Education

“It’s not about just reopening schools, let’s open a better school and let’s open a smarter education system.” -Gov. Andrew Cuomo, May 5, 2020

Photo Credit: The New York Times

How’s the CS Community doing?

Not so good probably, I understand. It’s been a long couple of months and some days are worse than others. But one thing is for sure, we are going to get through this. Our communities, our workplaces, and our schools will all return to something very, very similar to what we loved before.

Similar, but maybe not identical. I keep asking myself, “What will things look like when they return?” How can the new normal be better than what we had before? Especially in education.

Since March 23, Mouse.org has been busier than ever. Our staff has trained over 3,500 New York City teachers to use remote learning tools.

How big a job is this? Enormous. There are 1,700 public schools in New York City and with all of them closed, NYC’s 75,000 educators are now teaching 1.1 million students from home. We’ve heard that the New York City Department of Education might now be the world’s single largest Google Classroom user.

Why has Mouse jumped in to do this work? Because for more than 20 years, tens of thousands of under-resourced students have depended on Mouse for the CS and STEM training they need to succeed in high tech careers. It’s our social duty to step up now and respond when their schools are closed.

Our Mouse trainers don’t save lives, but every one of them is a first-responder in their own right. Twenty years from now when someone asks how they spent the COVID-19 lock-down, they can proudly explain their role as essential workers bridging the digital divides separating students from learning and instructors from teaching. They are part of the solution. By putting CS skills in everyone’s hands and making CSforAll a reality, we are permanently improving the system. Just maybe, we’ll all look back at 2020 as the tipping point when tech education reformed education and improved outcomes for even the most under-resourced students, teachers, and schools.

“I think education is a topic where people will say, ‘Look, I’ve been reflecting, I’ve been thinking, I learned a lot. We all learned a lot about how vulnerable we are and how much we have to do and let’s start talking about really revolutionizing education and it’s about time.’ ”

-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, May 5, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo, daily briefing May 5, 2020

Back in March, on the same day Mouse.org closed our offices in NYC, our friends at Deloitte published an article about resilient leadership during the COVID crisis. They put forth three dimensions to guide how we move forward during this extraordinary and terrible crisis, a framework for transforming education in America: Respond, Recover, Thrive.

Mouse has been responding. Now we are ready to help schools Recover and build long-term ed tech systems that allow our students to Thrive.

Recovery means preparing for our reopening in the fall. “We have to start planning,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of NYC’s United Federation of Teachers. “We can’t wait for people to realize how big this challenge is going to be for us as educators.” Reopening will probably come in a staggered and bumpy way; some combination of remote and in-person instruction.

Recovery also means making sure every educator is equipped and fully-trained to provide the most equitable education experience for our students. We are grateful to CSforAll and many tech ed innovators for their leadership during this uncertain and challenging time!

About the Author: Larry Lieberman is the CEO of Mouse.org, a leading NYC-based nonprofit teaching life-changing Computer Science skills to students and providing comprehensive professional development to teachers. Larry has shared his views on social action and philanthropy on CNN, NPR, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other media.

The national hub for the Computer Science for All movement, making high-quality computer science education an integral part of K-12 education in the US.

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