State Legislative Bodies Advance Computer Science and Technology bills for High School Graduation and new Workforce STEM Requirements

NASHVILLE, TN—Tennessee’s General Assembly reconvened January 11, 2022 and on April 14, 2022 the Tennessee Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 2406 (SB 2406) requiring their Department of Education (DOE) to adopt standards for computer science education by the 2023-2024 school year. Under the new bill, by the 2024-2025 school year all high school students in Tennessee would be required to take a full year of computer science education in order to graduate and middle schoolers would have to take at least one computer science course.

CodeCrew Code School helps connect families and young adults in Memphis, TN.
Photo courtesy: CodeCrew Memphis

SB 2406 and its companion bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives, HB 2153, stipulates Tennessee [DOE] will provide in-person and online computer science courses for public school students at no charge by the start of the 2023-24 school year. To this end, DOE would also provide a computer science education professional development program at no cost to educators. Additionally, SB 2406/HB 2153 creates new computer science requirements and stronger academic standards for K-12 students with a requirement Tennessee schools implement these standards beginning in the 2024-25 school year when enacted.

BDPA Alumni and BDPA Memphis Chapter Student Members with (L-R) Bryce Ellis, Naim Hakeem, Kareem Dasilva, Judy Lane, Melaati Jayah, Jada Thorium Mykaila Johnson. Photo: BDPA Memphis

Nebraska Advances High School Computer Science and Technology Bill

Nebraska lawmakers also approved a bill last month to ensure students receive computer science and technology education prior to high school graduation. Introduced by Senator Terrell McKinney of Omaha, LB 1112 would require every public school district in Nebraska to include computer science and technology education within legacy instructional programs of its elementary and middle schools beginning in school year 2024-25.

Nebraska’s students would be required to complete at least one five-credit high school course in computer science and technology prior to graduation. These courses can be provided across traditional in-person classroom settings or blended learning environments.

Upskilling JROTC with STEM Education and Cybersecurity Training for Workforce Pipelines  

JROTC Cadets from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. attending BDPA-DC’s annual Community Technology Awards. BDPA photo © 2019 by Roy Lewis

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2022, Public Law 117-81, authorized $187.6 million and modifies a grant program supporting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in JROTC to include quantum information sciences. NDAA 2022 also requires the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) to submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate (SASC) and the House of Representatives (HASC) a briefing on the status of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs of each Armed Force. SECDEF’s briefing must include the following:

(1) an assessment of the current usage of the program, including the number of individuals enrolled in the program, the demographic information of individuals enrolled in the program, and the number of units established under the program

(2) a description of the efforts of the Armed Forces to meet current enrollment targets for the program

(3) If applicable, an explanation of the reasons such enrollment targets have not been met
(4) a description of any obstacles preventing the Armed Forces from meeting such enrollment targets

(5) a comparison of the potential benefits and drawbacks of expanding the program; and

(6) a description of program-wide diversity and inclusion recruitment and retention efforts

Tech Industry Certifications Before High School Graduation

In Virginia, the commonwealth’s  Board of Education has approved many exams for the purpose of awarding verified credit, specifically designated as “Student-Selected Verified Credit.” In Fairfax County, just outside of our Nation’s Capital, many  Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses prepare students for industry certification opportunities. Students who desire this professional credential must pass an industry-developed, industry evaluated exam at the end of the CTE course. Earning an industry credential demonstrates professional skill levels students and JROTC cadets have achieved while providing industry-recognized proof that students are prepared for career-related responsibilities or post-secondary education or training.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) provides a broad range of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) opportunities and academic opportunities that support pathways to STEAM jobs and careers. In Fairfax County, and across the National Capital Region, the greatest job growth continues to come largely from STEAM-related professions.

Sources: Tennessee and Nebraska General Assemblies; FCPS; Code Crews; BDPA Memphis; and BDPA-DC. Cover photo credit: Charlie Perkins, National BDPA. BDPA Southern Minnesota Coding Team shown during National BDPA’s annual High School Computer Competition (HSCC).

FCEDA

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FCC To Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

New Program Provides Funding to Schools and Libraries Critical to Closing the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far too often, students, teachers, and library patrons lack the access they need to broadband and connected devices. This need has become even more apparent during these unprecedented times,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. “Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare, and employment resources. They will help close the Homework Gap for students nationwide and give so many more households the ability to connect, communicate, and more fully participate in modern life.”

The Report and Order adopted today establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The new rules define eligible equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses, and reasonable support amounts for funding provided. It designates the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) as the program administrator with FCC oversight, and leverages the processes and structures used in the ERate program for the benefit of schools and libraries already familiar with the E-Rate program. It also adopts procedures to protect the limited funding from waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent estimates suggest there may be as many as 17 million children struggling without the broadband access they need for remote learning. The Acting Chairwoman has long made closing the Homework Gap a priority during her tenure at the Commission.

— Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Top photo: GettyImages


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A new generation of Black male teachers starts its journey in partnership with Apple

AUSTIN, TX — For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family. Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.

By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.

This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.

At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty. 

“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.

Rhys Richard practices the tuba alongside iPad Pro and MacBook Pro.
Rhys Richard plays four instruments and one day aspires to teach music.

Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.

Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.

“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.

”It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative, and sought out a partner in Apple.

I want to be the teacher I never had, the teacher every student deserves. And it all begins here.

Rhys Richard, student at Huston-Tillotson University

“There’s an African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,’” says Dr. Burnette. “So to have a partner like Apple that is best in class for innovation and its commitment to excellence — it’s a natural match. We’re investing in a mission with education as the great equalizer and giving people opportunities to be the best they can be.”

When Rhys graduates from the program, he’s going to teach music. He currently plays four instruments, including the tuba, which is his favorite. His freshman music classes are taught by Dr. Samuel Rowley, who is Rhys’s first Black male teacher. “He’s very positive,” says Rhys. “And he’s a perfectionist with his work, which is sort of like me. So I see myself in him.”

Dr. Rowley’s life was also changed by his first Black male teacher, his high school band director. “He left a tremendous impact,” says Dr. Rowley.

“We all wanted to be music teachers just like him.” Dr. Rowley uses Clips and Garage Band on iPad in his music classes, which are all taught remotely because of the pandemic.

“If it would not have been for Apple products, I would not have been able to connect with my students all around the country,” says Dr. Rowley, who is a recognized Apple Teacher after completing professional learning courses offered through the free online Apple Teacher Learning Center. He’s guiding Rhys and his fellow Pre-Ed Scholars through the courses as well, so they will also be recognized Apple Teachers when they graduate.

“I’m really excited about learning more about Apple technology with the Apple Teacher program,” says Rhys. “Especially now that I’ve been introduced to GarageBand, I want to learn more about how I can incorporate it into my classes when I’m a teacher.” That passion for sharing knowledge is something that Rhys’s mother has seen for many years.

“The way he loves music, it will make anyone love music,” says Astrya, an assistant principal who taught for many years. “And I just picture him having that type of impact on kids. I think he’s going to be an outstanding educator.” Rhys’s application essay to Huston-Tillotson closed with a commitment to the generations of students he will undoubtedly go on to inspire.“

I look forward to creating a place of open learning where ideas are exchanged and experiences are shared,” wrote Rhys. “I want to be the teacher I never had, the teacher every student deserves. And it all begins here.”

Rhys Richard with his mother, Astrya Richard, and his father, Hillary Richard Jr.
Rhys Richard’s mother, Astrya Richard, who spent her career in education, and his father, Hillary Richard Jr., deeply support their son’s journey to one day teach the next generation of students.

— Source and photos: Apple

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Congress Hosts HBCU Leaders for Event on Education, R&D, and Prosperity

BDPA2020 | bdpa2020.com

WASHINGTON — Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) hosted the fourth annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Fly-In event with U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.)  This annual Fly-In represented nearly 40 HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the country.

The Fly-In event featured two panels with members of Congress. One in the morning with Scott, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Walker hosted the second panel, which included guests U.S. Representative French Hill (R-A.R) and U.S. Representative Andy Barr (R-K.Y).

Among topics discussed were funding sources and the passage of the FUTURE Act, legislation Walker led to provide permanent resources for HBCUs and MSIs. Walker and Scott also led a robust session on the benefit of Opportunity Zones and economic policies to bridge economic and educational divides across minority communities.

Scott and Fly-In attendees honored Walker with a framed photo at the conclusion of the conference to thank him for his relentless dedication to HBCUs over the past six years. His district also includes the largest HBCU in the United States, North Carolina A&T State University.

Walker has been a champion of HBCUs and MSIs from the very beginning of his time in Congress, fighting for the funding and recognition they deserve. Walker also delivered welcoming remarks this week at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF) Fly-In.

scott-hbcu_fly-in-2020b

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) (above, center) moderates a panel with Senate colleagues (seated L-R) Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Senator Scott and Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) co-hosted the Fourth Annual 2020 HBCU Fly-In in Washington, D.C. This annual event featured a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of Members of Congress to celebrate America’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Related funding discussions with both chambers of Congress, both sides of the aisle, Professional Staff, and event follow-up requests for HBCU/MSI inclusion include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing HBCU/MSI research and development (R&D) participation
  • Upgrading HBCU/MSI infrastructures
  • Developing and upgrading HBCU/MSI super-computing facilities, capabilities, training, and staffing
  • Increasing HBCU/MSI pipelines with robust High School and JROTC computer, cyber, robotics, and drone training with competitions from as early as 7th or 8th grades

Funding requests were submitted this quarter to the House and Senate’s respective professional staff  on Appropriations, Armed Services, or select Committees on Intelligence for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund legislative incentives to broaden mission-partnerships and increase subcontracts for HBCU/MSIs with Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs).  FFRDCs and UARCs are not-for-profit entities sponsored and primarily funded by the U.S. government to address technical needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing government or contractor resources.

Select here to read or download this edition.Similar funding requests for HBCU/MSIs also apply to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which invests in the future of transportation and “SMART Cities” through its University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program. The UTC program awards and administers grants to consortia of colleges and universities across the United States.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), who chairs the CBC and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), who serves as Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also participated.

— Sources and photos courtesy BDPA-DC and the offices
of Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Mark Walker

Commemorating Women's History Month

Johnson & Johnson executive to chair National BDPA’s Education and Technology Foundation

larry-jones-JJATLANTA, GA—National BDPA’s Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) today named Larry Jones its new Chairman. Jones succeeds Earl A. Pace, Jr., Co-Founder of National BDPA.

Jones, a Johnson & Johnson executive,  is a purpose-driven leader that delivers transformational change with key principles of business process integration, agile approaches, and next generation technology solutions. As a seasoned tech executive, he has led significant programs within Johnson & Johnson across its Pharmaceuticals and Hospital Medical Device sectors.

Driven by his passion and experience in healthcare, he is CIO for one of the largest medical device companies in the world. As member of the $27B Medical Device senior leadership team, Larry’s recent success includes completion of a 3 year, $200M global digital transformation initiative to drive lean business processes, cloud-based solutions, and integrated insights. He spent over 6+ years as the multi-region, global CIO for Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Currently, he is focused on driving digital surgery connectivity solutions for the company’s surgical robotics and machine learning platforms in Oncology, Orthopedics, Cardiovascular, and general surgery.

With a strong commitment to diversity and core values, his leadership teams have driven consistently high employee engagement results and technology execution. He is an executive member of the Johnson & Johnson African American Leadership Council and J&J’s regional Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council.

Fascinated with the opportunity of transforming lives in healthcare through next generation technology, Larry serves as a Healthcare industry advisory council member for Microsoft and Verizon. Along with his efforts on non-profit boards, he is also member of the prestigious Executive Leadership Council.

In 2019, Larry was honored by ITSMF and The Harlem Fine Arts Society for African American Lifetime Achievement in Technology. He has also been nominated for InspireCIO’s NY/NJ CIO of the year for 2019.

Larry Jones has a MS / MBA in computer engineering from the University of Pennsylvania & Wharton School. He also earned a BS in Computer Science from St. Peter’s University.

BETF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, founded in 1992 to support the education and technical programs of National BDPA (founded in 1975 and formerly known as Black Data Processing Associates).

BDPA2019.com | BETF.org

Source and photos: Larry Jones/LinkedIn and J&J

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