The following is a statement by Dr. Calvin Mackie the founder and president of STEM NOLA:
“The 2022 State of Computer Science Education report offers a comprehensive, yet alarming view of how our schools are preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s workforce and position them to compete in the global marketplace. Fifty-three percent of the nation’s high schools now offer computer science, up 2% over the previous year. But among economically disadvantaged students, 56% attend schools that offer computer science courses, but only 37% of these low-income students take those courses. That tells us the problem is not just with the schools and the administrators. The takeaway must be that parents, relatives, as well as church, sports teams, and community leaders, must step up, too, and do a better job nurturing our children about the skills needed for future success.
“We cannot repeatedly condemn the education system as biased when collectively our children are being failed at home, in church and in the neighborhood. The entire ecosystem must speak with a powerful voice about STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math, and its critical role in the future of children, and our communities.
“For sure, we have fought for equal access to quality education, including demands that our children have access to STEM courses. These are the foundation for many of today’s quality jobs and careers and will be even more-so in the future. But now we must guide our children to take advantage of these opportunities that are available. It’s important that in ‘The Village’ where our children are raised and play, we must all learn about STEM, why it matters so much, what role it plays in our everyday lives, and how it can shape the future for our children.
“In 2013, when I launched STEM NOLA, the groundbreaking affiliate of STEM Global Action, our objective was to bring STEM education to Black and Brown communities, where we would teach K-12 children, parents, and entire communities about the power of STEM. That approach is even more critical today. The entire Village must know more about STEM, so its importance can be passed on to the students. We can prevent them from missing opportunities and support them when they engage in new academic challenges.
“Clearly, it’s time to adopt strategies that work with our children. ‘If you want to play on a sports team, you must take a computer science course.’ ‘If you want to join the band, the choir or another club, take a computer science course.’ ‘If you want to make rap with your friends, take a computer science course.’ This is a Call to Action for our children: “We must be better, so they will be better.” Computer science courses must be a prerequisite to everything our children do.”
Dr. Calvin Mackie founded STEM NOLA IN 2013 as a New Orleans-based, non-profit committed to expanding STEM education at churches, community centers and schools, particularly in communities of color. His goal is to make STEM education available in ALL communities. In July 2021, Dr. Mackie launched STEM Global Action, a campaign and network of affiliates, including STEM NOLA, that pursues STEM education for children, parents and communities across the U.S., and abroad. His initiatives have impacted more than 100,000 students, 20,000 families and 5,100 schools across the U.S., and in five other countries. Dr. Mackie also hosts the Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast series. It features interviews with guests from all aspects of STEM – entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, students – who talk about the importance of STEM in their lives today.