In this essay, Sepehr Vakil argues that a more serious engagement with critical traditions in education research is necessary to achieve a justice-centered approach to equity in computer science (CS) education. With CS rapidly emerging as a distinct feature of K–12 public education in the United States, calls to expand CS education are often linked to equity and diversity concerns around expanding access to girls and historically underrepresented students of color. Yet, unlike other critical traditions in education research, equity-oriented CS research has largely failed to interrogate the sociopolitical context of CS education. To move toward a justice-centered approach to equity, Vakil argues, we must simultaneously attend to at least three features of CS education: the content of curriculum, the design of learning environments, and the politics and purposes of CS education reform. While there are many avenues of critical inquiry within and across each of these topics, the focus in this essay is on the role of ethics in the curriculum, the role of identity in CS learning environments, and the significance of a clear political vision for CS education.

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