Computer science is widening the education gap

Minority students are in danger of being made technologically rich but cognitively poor.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3

Stuck in the Shallow End is a warning to all of us. It is well timed, coming on the heels of the recent, highly visible report, Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (or, RAGS), mandated by Congress and facilitated and published by the National Academies (2007). Like Stuck in the Shallow End, the RAGS report is also a warning; it warns the nation that we are in danger of losing our world leadership in science and technology innovation and at risk of not being able to fill our need for high-end technical jobs. Many, including this writer, have stated that the nation's greatest hope of avoiding these dangers is to turn to our underrepresented groups, namely, women and underrepresented minorities. Yet, Stuck in the Shallow End shines a glaring light on the fact that we are far from doing so. Instead, as a nation, we are spending huge amounts of money to move in directions away from -- rather than toward -- those solutions that RAGS has identified.

A clear message of this book is that better computer science, indeed science, will not come from being stuck in the shallow end, no matter how good the technology is at that end of the pool, because the tools are not being used properly. Minority students in high school are in danger of being made technologically rich but cognitively poor. In the shallow end they are not encouraged to be innovative or to pursue paths leading to high-end technology jobs. Yet this is what the nation so desperately needs. Better technology comes from better science and better science comes from the proper use of better technology. It is a cycle, to be sure, but it need not be a vicious one. Students simply need clearer pathways into it and support once they arrive.

The authors' use of the historical color line in swimming as an analogy refreshes our memories and keeps us aware of the incredible obstacles that many of us have had to face. The familiarity that this imagery offers makes it much more difficult to deny our circumstance or to presume we have done enough. Stuck in the Shallow End is a powerful warning. America, take heed.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3
 
Shop Tech Products at Amazon