VOICES: Art Lopez Sheds a Light on the Impact of Covid-19 and How Computer Science Education is Impacting Latinx Communities
Each episode of VOICES tackles a different area that is important to advancing quality education and upward mobility in marginalized communities. Episode two features Art Lopez, a 33-year veteran teacher at Sweetwater High School in San Diego, Calif. and passionate advocate for computer science education in Latinx communities.
Together, with Lien Diaz, Constellations director of innovation and educational leadership, the duo discussed how to support Latinx students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
Supporting Latinx students is close to Lopez’s heart as he became a teacher because he wanted to give back to his community.
“Growing up, there were not a lot of people who looked like me when I was going to school and I thought that we need to really change that. Once I decided to become a teacher, I really wanted to work somewhere that I could make an impact, somewhere where I could help kids that look like me, and try to change whatever situation they’ve found themselves in,” said Lopez.
Lopez was instrumental in bringing computer science education to his school district after discovering that no schools – in a district that serves 42,000 students – offered any kind of computer science education. The district now offers 65 courses.
Lopez has also been able to implement change on a district and national level as president of Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) San Diego chapter and as the Grades 9-12 Representative on CSTA’s Board of Directors.
Another major focal point of their conversation was how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted schools, especially schools that are regularly underfunded and whose populations are predominantly Black or people of color.
“It’s been overwhelming for everyone involved…one thing that this has highlighted is the digital divide that exists in communities across the nation. There was a stark realization how poorly equipped many teachers and students were to move to virtual learning and the burden that that would put on parents, especially parents who might not know how to use digital tools in the educational space,” said Lopez.
For Lopez and Diaz’s full conversation, check out the video on the Constellations YouTube channel.
The Constellation Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech has formed VOICES - Voices of Innovative Compassionate Experts in Society, an alliance of forward thinking, transformational and empathetic thought leaders with the goal of laying out a rigorous agenda to shine a brighter spotlight on the social negligence shown toward poorer communities, and the lack of equitable access to upward mobility and quality education and healthcare. In this time of crisis, it is clear that computer science education is only part of the solution.