DegreeComputer Science and Mathematics '21
I'm from a small town in rural East Texas and was not afforded many opportunities while in high school. For example, I didn't know what computer science was until the summer before I started at Duke. Education inequality across the country became immediately apparent to me after hearing about the more affluent high schools that many of my peers at Duke had attended. I saw a Facebook post for CSbyUs post during my sophomore year and felt like it would be a great way to begin acting on what was at the time a burgeoning passion.
When I started working with CSByUs, we were lower scale, working with local organizations like the Boys & Girls Club in Durham. Being able to spark an interest in computer science with that dozen or so kids and giving them some more confidence and knowledge to hopefully take full advantage of any computer science opportunities that they would have in high school felt truly great. The idea of being able to have that same impact for every student across the state is indescribable, and something I have no issue putting many hours into with the hopes that it will improve those students' lives and help balance some of the education inequality across NC.
Last year, I had a call with the CEO of an EdTech startup and we discussed our thoughts on public education. I was disheartened to find that he had given up on state governments to not only rectify education inequality but to also provide higher quality learning materials, specifically in STEM. So, his goal with his start-up was to provide a way for students to learn more outside of the classroom. However, to me this meant that his product was really targeted towards the students with the time and resources to learn CS at home, which in a way, served to exacerbate education inequality.
This discussion really opened my eyes to the idea that while yes, companies like his and like Khan Academy and many others are great, they aren't the solution to public education in America. I think it's very important for those in the education/EdTech community to not give up on public education, and instead to work on improving education in the classroom, not out of it. I hope that our work with the NC Board of Education will provide a blueprint for how other education organizations (whether at the college or professional level) can work with their state government on the unified goal of helping our young students live better lives.
See related story on the Duke I&E website.