Edtech News Round Up: How Silicon Valley Is Getting Students Into Tech

Edtech news round up June 12

Read how Silicon Valley is working to get students from low-income backgrounds into high-tech careers, plus more stories.


How Silicon Valley Schools are Trying to Boost Lower-income Students into High-tech Jobs

In Silicon Valley’s Latino neighborhoods, many of the students attending schools are from Mexican immigrant families. These students will likely be the first in their families to go to college. Some will be the first to complete high school.

Across California, Latino and black students earn lower scores on state exams than white or Asian students. They are also less likely to take higher level math and science classes that prepare students for high-tech majors and careers.

Only 4.7% of Silicon Valley’s tech professionals are Latino and 2.2 % are African American. In an effort to get more of these lower-income students into high-paying career paths many schools are participating in various initiatives.

Silicon Valley Education Foundation summer program, Elevate Math is one example of programs helping to improve math skills to push students towards STEM success.

Getting kids on the right academic track will not work by itself. Programs are also trying to make lower-income students more aware of high-tech career opportunities.

Bay Area districts and charter schools have partnered with Genesys Works to place 12th graders in nine-month internships at high-tech companies.

The Genesys Work programme takes students the summer before senior year. During this time, the student is taught various technical skills that will be applicable in a professional environment.

Over the following school year, students spend half their time in school and the other half in paid internships. Nearly all students that take part in the program enroll in college.

Another school in the region, Downtown College Prep Alum Rock High, are working on helping their students get hands-experience in STEM subjects.

The school developed a program called Project Lead the Way. The program encourages students to identify community issues and to use science and engineering to come up with a solution.

The first year of the program came at the same time of the historic drought in California. That year, Alum Rock students designed a gray-water recycling system that went on to be a national winner at a Samsung sponsored contest. Many students were surprised as they did not think their lower-income school would win against a wealthy school.

Today 55% of DCP Alum Rock students take engineering or computer science. This helps grow student’s interest and experience working in robotics, rocketry, and engineering.

The school also offers a BUILD entrepreneurship class. The class enables students to develop product ideas, which they can then pitch to Silicon Valley professionals.

The Future of Education Depends on Social Emotional Learning: Here’s Why

Social and emotional abilities are viewed as an indication of how well an individual can adjust to their environment. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) aims to help develop these skills.

The development of SEL skills can give students the confidence to be more involved in their classrooms. This can have a real impact later in life and make it easier to have a positive involvement in the workplace and wider community.

A report found that students who receive SEL in education have achievement scores 11% higher than students who didn’t. Studies suggest that lack of SEL contributes to an increase in the chances of unemployment, divorce, poor health, criminal behavior, and imprisonment.

Web Searches Reveal (in Aggregate) What We’re Really Thinking

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former Data Scientist at Google, explains that the way people express their inner thoughts has changed.

In the pre-digital age, people used to hide their embarrassing thoughts from others. Now in the digital age, people still hide these thoughts but also share them with particular internet sites that protect their anonymity.

Using big data research tool we are now able to see into people’s honest thoughts and actions.

Take racism for example. In recent polling data, it shows that bigoted attitudes have been in steady decline for decades.

Using Google Trends, Stephen-Davidowits analyzed the 2008 US presidential election and found that President Obama got fewer votes than expected in many Democratic strongholds because of silent racism.

In some of these stronghold cities and states, there were more searches for Obama through the use of the N-word than using the term “first black president”.

Thankfully, it is not all grim reading. Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker analyzed trends for bigoted search terms between 2004 and 2017 and reported in his 2018 book Enlightenment Now that the frequency of such searches was declining. “The curves,” he writes, “suggest that Americans are not just more abashed about confessing to prejudice than they used to be; they privately don’t find it as amusing.”

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