Entrepreneurship, federalism, and Chicago: Setting the computer science agenda at the local and national levels

June 2020


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Mark Johnson

The Learning Partnership

John Wachen

The Learning Partnership

From 2012-13 to 2018-19, the number of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school students taking an introductory computer science course rose from three thousand per year to twelve thousand per year. Our analysis examines the policy entrepreneurship that helped drive the rapid expansion of computer science education in CPS, within the broader context of the computer science movement at the national level. Specifically, we describe how actions at the national level (e.g., federal action and advocacy work by national organizations) created opportunities in Chicago and, likewise, how actions at the local level (e.g., district policy action and advocacy by local educators and stakeholders) influenced agenda setting at the national level. Data from interviews with 12 computer science advocates from local and national organizations are used to document and study the multidirectional (vertical and horizontal) flow of advocacy efforts and how these efforts influenced policy decisions in the area of computer science. The interviews with subsystem actors––which include district leaders, National Science Foundation program officers, university professors, and leaders from advocacy organizations––provide an insider’s perspective on the unfolding of events and highlight how idea champions from various organizations worked to achieve their policy objectives.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, M., Wachen, J., and McGee, S. (2020, April 17-21). Entrepreneurship, Federalism, and Chicago: Setting the Computer Science Agenda at the Local and National Levels [Paper presentation]. 2020 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, United States. (conference cancelled) https://doi.org/10.51420/conf.2020.1