Posted on May 28, 2021
Dr. Amy Ko Headshot
Dr. Amy Ko previews her keynote address and session for CSTA 2021.

Full Story

My mother was a 5th-grade teacher for most of my life, and so schools and teaching were a fixture of my youth. I remember helping her set up her room each year before school; when I was older, I was her teacher’s aide for the two weeks before my district started. I watched her grade each night. I helped her prepare for job interviews. I made dinner when she was stuck in traffic on her 90-minute commute home. And when Oregon dramatically cut funding for schools in the 1990s to lower property taxes, I consoled her when she lost her job and regained it each summer as her district tried to manage its growing student population and a shrinking budget. And I watched all of this as my comparatively wealthy district thrived, inspiring and supporting me in ways that my mother’s district simply couldn’t.

It was these early exposures to the structural inequities in schools that eventually inspired me to turn my attention to inequities in teaching, learning, and education. Public K-12 computer science education is a unique place in which to engage inequities, not only because these inequities directly affect who has access to CS education, but also because CS, as a discipline, is creating and amplifying these inequities by shifting capital, power, and policy to the private, wealthy actors. We can’t make CS education more equitable without making education more equitable; we can’t make education more equitable without making CS more equitable. It’s a tightly wound knot that we desperately need to disentangle.

In my upcoming keynote at CSTA 2021 conference, I’m going to try to provide a map of inequities in CS education, from the classroom to Congress. I hope that by helping us see the many layers of interacting inequities, and broader systems of oppression from which they derive, we can each find a way to make change, helping CS education be for all, but also helping the things we make with CS be for all. I hope you’ll join me at the conference and the discussion afterward, and find a way to help!