ND schools should embrace TEALS

It is good news for students, families and those supportive of the future of our entire state that Microsoft has entered into a new partnership with state schools to offer a unique program for computer science instruction.

Microsoft will be expanding its Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program to North Dakota by hiring a full-time, North Dakota-based coordinator, volunteering some of its own employees and expert instructors as classroom teachers, and exploring further investments to expand this innovative program for North Dakota high school students, according to State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

In the TEALS program, a volunteer computer science professional from Microsoft or another industry partner teams up with a classroom instructor to team-teach computer science courses. The classroom teacher gradually takes over instruction as she or he gains knowledge of the subject. Baesler said teachers of various educational backgrounds can use Microsoft TEALS both to learn computer science concepts and how to teach them.

Understanding and employing technology isn’t just important for young people entering the work force. It is essential. Long gone are the days when only certain professions called for tech-savvy employees; it is virtually a universal requirement today. Young people simply cannot compete in the global marketplace without requisite skills. We fail them if we fail to extend opportunities for students to embrace and achieve in the area of technology.

According to Code.org, a nonprofit organization that is supported by the technology industry, North Dakota has more than 600 open computing jobs, which have an average annual salary of more than $70,000. Meanwhile, 93 percent of parents want their child’s school to teach computer science, but only 40 percent of schools teach it, according to Code.org.

North Dakota, particularly under Gov. Doug Burgum, has made some progress in emphasizing technology. Still, Baesler said Hillsboro High School in the Red River Valley is the only North Dakota high school with a Microsoft TEALS program. She hopes it will catch on with many others.

Minot Daily News joins Baesler in the hope that other schools will engage this opportunity. It’s hard to envision a better collaborator than Microsoft, it is a wonderful opportunity for North Dakota, and the proliferation of technology awareness and skills is a virtual necessity as we look ahead to the economy of the future.