San Diego's Sweetwater High School is in one of the districts offering AP Computer Science Principles, the College Board course debuting across the country during the 2016-2017 academic year.
About five years ago, a student asked Arthur Lopez, a Sweetwater High School teacher who taught computer applications courses, why high schools in the more affluent areas of the county, La Jolla and Torrey Pines, offered computer science classes when his did not. Of the student body at Sweetwater High School, 85 percent were on free or reduced-price lunch programs last year. There were no computer science courses available in the Sweetwater Union High School District.
"It just hit me, right then and there, really hard, that this was an inequity access issue," Lopez says. "My kids were not being given the same opportunities that other children were being given to computer science courses, and then exposure to computer science, which arguably would lead to the highest-paying jobs in the world."
Computing is at the base of scientific innovation, and the need to understand it is critical not only for a STEM job, but for any career, he adds. "I just thought, 'This is criminal. How can we not offer them these types of courses?'"