New coding clubs will introduce 3,000 Newark girls to computer science

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter. Read about new computer-science workshops for girls and the district’s ongoing absenteeism challenge.

Programming note: Chalkbeat Newark will be off next week while Newark Public Schools are on winter break. The newsletter will return Jan. 7. Until then, happy New Year!

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Websites, apps, computer software — they all run on code. Now, thousands of Newark girls are going to learn how to write that code.

A partnership between Girls Who Code and Newark Public Schools will bring coding clubs to 24 district middle schools. The program, which is geared specifically to female students, is expected to introduce computer-science basics to more than 3,000 girls.

The partnership will help boost computer-science education in Newark, which is limited by a statewide shortage of qualified instructors. The clubs will be led by volunteer facilitators, some of whom may be learning how to code alongside the students.

The effort comes amid a statewide push to increase computer-science education. And it’s specifically meant to address the wide gender gap in computer science, where only one in five graduates are women.

“A majority of our girls want to take another computer science class after they participate in a club,” one program official said.

Read the full story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

One in five Newark students was ‘chronically absent’ during first months of school

  • What to know: More than 20 percent of Newark students were “chronically absent” during the first three months of the current school year, new data show.
  • Those roughly 8,000 students missed six or more school days from September through November.
  • About 3,200 of those students missed more than 10 days of school — the equivalent of two weeks of class.
  • The data show that Newark’s long-standing absenteeism challenge is continuing, even as Superintendent Roger León makes improving attendance a top priority.
  • One big question: León has set a district-wide goal of 100 percent attendance — but what is his plan to address the persistent problem of chronic absenteeism?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

School bus woes…

  • District officials are promising to crack down on delinquent bus companies after families reported that some students with disabilities were not getting picked up. TAPinto Newark

Study abroad…

  • Students from Newark’s Eagle Academy are in Northern Ireland, where they’ve visited the Titanic Museum and discussed racism and sectarianism with Irish peers. Belfast Live

City historian…

  • Junius Williams, a longtime civil-rights activist who founded a program to help Newark parents get involved with school policy, has been named Newark’s new official historian. Brick City Live, Newark Patch

NPS news & events…

  • 22,000 students from 35 Newark schools will get three free books through the My Very Own Library program.
  • “I Will Survive” singer Gloria Gaynor recently visited Malcolm X Shabazz High School.
  • The Newark school board’s monthly meeting will be held Tuesday evening at University High School.

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

Last in, first out…

  • The New Jersey law that protects veteran teachers from losing their jobs will remain in effect after the state’s supreme court declined to hear a case that had challenged the seniority rule., TAPinto Newark

Race to the future…

  • More than 100 NJ high school students participated in a competition where they raced model cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells. NJTV

Digital divide…

  • A third of Newark households have no internet access at home. NJ Spotlight

Charter-school review…

  • Opinion: As the state education department reviews its charter-school policies, a Newark charter advocate is calling for “policies that collectively expand, not diminish, [the] growing impact” of charter schools. TAPinto Newark

Literacy failure…

  • This Chicago student is 16 years old and can barely read. What happened? Chalkbeat

Money matters…

  • A recent review of studies from across the country found that increased school spending meant statistically significant benefits for students, including rising test scores and high school graduation rates. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

Newark students can apply directly for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, or teachers can nominate them. Applications are due Jan. 31.