Posted by CSTA Equity Fellows on Feb 13, 2023

Voice: The voice of K-12 computer science education and its educators
Can you really be an ally and advocate for historically excluded communities if you stand in direct opposition to the equitable treatment of people in those communities?

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Can you really be an ally and advocate for historically excluded communities if you stand in direct opposition to the equitable treatment of people in those communities? 
The importance of accountable leadership cannot be understated. Time and again, we are reminded that leaders do not always share the values of the constituency they serve. Whether it’s the CEO of CrossFit making inflammatory remarks regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, or the CEO of Wells Fargo & Co. giving insensitive statements around race and diversity, the people who are put in a position to lead have let us down with their words and actions that target marginalized groups. Even when organizations publicly state that they have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we face the disheartening reality that our leaders’ words and actions are all too often not aligned.
This is the case in our very own computer science education community. In early January, Keenan Anderson, a Black teacher, died hours after the LAPD tased him. Just weeks later, the CEO of, Hadi Partovi, volunteered to be tased live onstage in a controlled, public setting. In a signed statement, Partovi writes on behalf of, “we do not enter public debates, make statements, or take positions on issues unrelated to computer science,” acknowledging that these acts “distract and detract from the organization’s mission.” However, this CEO is also a board member of Axon, the company that creates TASER. It is challenging not to view this leader’s actions as a direct, public response to the questionable safety of a weapon used by police. Their actions spoke louder than words and thrust not only the organization but the entire CS Education community into a public debate.
When a prominent leader of the global CS education community chooses to take the stage to promote a personal agenda that undermines the national conversation on race and human rights, they are choosing to center self-interest over the values of the organization they lead. When a leader who positions themselves as a national advocate for underserved and underrepresented populations takes the stage directly following the death of Keenan Anderson to promote tasers, they devalue the children they have promised to serve. 
We are educators in the classrooms and communities, much like where Keenan Anderson served. We are the CSTA Equity Fellows-teachers and leaders from across the U.S., advocating for equitable computer science, working and serving in classrooms, school district offices, state departments, universities, libraries, tech corporations, and nonprofit organizations. We change the trajectories of students, building agency and empowering them to succeed in a future that should be filled with possibility. We value responsive systems that expand and are inclusive for K-12 computer science. We value access to equitable opportunities through policy and community-based action that promote accessibility and diverse representation of marginalized voices.
We are the adults that students look to when they see the paradox and the injustice in the actions of an individual who has positioned himself as the public face of an equitable future for all. We see the defeat and the acceptance of the “once again.” 
We invite not only the leadership teams at but also those community-based organizations, school systems, legislative bodies, and corporations that stand alongside us as advocates for equity in computer science to engage in dialogue with us with the goal of achieving a restorative outcome.
These are the questions we are struggling with and want the community to engage in answering together: How should we, as stakeholders in CS education, address the actions of senior leaders who misrepresent the ideals and values of the greater CS education community and whose words cause harm for those we serve? What step(s) should partner organizations take to hold themselves continually accountable, reflective, and aligned to the values of our CS education community? How should we, as educators, respond to the concerns of the communities we engage to rebuild broken bonds of trust and connection? Furthermore, how has this event impacted your staff and/or colleagues, specifically those who have dedicated themselves to serving the communities their actions have impacted?
We are teachers, educational leaders, allies, advocates, and voices in CS, who mourn with Keenan’s family, students, and community. Regardless of the classes he taught, his reach is the same-lasting and immeasurable. We acknowledge this as trauma. To our fellow educators: We see you. We feel you. We ARE you. One less Black male educator is one more leader we can’t replace. We will remain a safe and supportive environment for our students as we prepare a collective response that brings hope, exemplifies social justice, and provides assurance that this isn’t one more “once again.” We are committed to ensuring that our words and actions are aligned with our values and vision for the future of our students in all communities.

Our Working Collective Vision for #CSEquity

We Value…

  • Individual learner experience to empower agency and embrace representation across all categories of identity
  • Research- and community-based decision-making to empower stakeholders
  • Creating policies to overcome issues – setting up systems to disrupt the current status quo
  • Access to equitable opportunities through policy and community-based action that promote accessibility and diverse representation of marginalized voices
  • Responsive systems that expand and are inclusive for K12 CS

We Commit to…

  • Developing a shared understanding of equity and oppression, including a commitment to intersectionality and continued learning, understanding the multiple scopes of oppressive systems, recognizing privilege and appreciating differences.
  • Using feedback loops (qual/quant data) to measure growth, impact, and efficacy
  • Inclusive design of high-quality CS educational resources
  • (Shared Understanding) invigorate stakeholders (educators, community, policymakers) to acknowledge personal biases and push them aside when creating actionable policies, systems, and practices