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A Critical Crossroads for Computer Science for All: “Identifying Talent” or “Building Talent,” and What Difference Does It Make?

A Critical Crossroads for Computer Science for All: “Identifying Talent” or “Building Talent,” and What Difference Does It Make?
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Author(s): Jane Margolis (University of California – Los Angeles, USA), Joanna Goode (University of Oregon, USA) and Julie Flapan (University of California – Los Angeles, USA)
Copyright: 2017
Pages: 23
Source title: Moving Students of Color from Consumers to Producers of Technology
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Yolanda Rankin (Spelman College, USA) and Jakita Thomas (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2005-4.ch001



This chapter builds upon research findings that identified pernicious belief systems and structural inequalities that limit opportunities for students of color and females to have access to computer science learning opportunities (Margolis, Estrella, Goode, Holme, & Nao, 2008). The chapter shows how President Obama's agenda of Computer Science for All presents unusual opportunities for and potential threats to attempts to democratize computer science learning. Two approaches to broadening participation in computing are contrasted: “building” and “identifying” talent. These two approaches are examined within the context of school tracking—one of the most persistent structural forms of inequality in today's schools (Oakes, 2005). The Exploring Computer Science program and three case studies of students within the program are discussed as examples of a “building talent,” detracking educational reform.

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