Sunday, March 20, 2016

Coding In Schools

From the major Sacramento newspaper, which I noticed today is getting smaller and smaller:
California is home to Silicon Valley, a hub of technological innovation. The computer industry boasts hundreds of thousands of well-paying information technology jobs, with more on the way. IT departments are now a staple of corporate America.

Yet the large majority of California’s public high schools don’t offer dedicated computer science or computer programming courses, according to a Sacramento Bee review of teacher assignment data from the California Department of Education.
What do you think might be some of the reasons for this, hm?
There is a stark disconnect between those numbers and the amount of computer science education offered in California public high schools. More California high school students take ceramics courses than take dedicated computer programming courses, according to state data. Far more students take art, band, chorus, psychology or French courses than courses devoted to computer science. Students are almost 20 times as likely to take Advanced Placement English language or literature as they are to take AP computer science...

Keeshin is among several experts who pointed to a basic challenge schools face in trying to expand the computer curriculum: a lack of qualified teachers. Teaching positions in California tend to pay far less than what someone can make as a computer programmer or engineer. The median salary for a programmer in California is about $90,000. The median high school teacher’s salary is $70,000...

Prospective high school teachers generally obtain a single-subject credential in the discipline they plan to teach. But California does not offer computer science certification for teachers. Instead, teacher candidates interested in computer science usually get certified in math, business or industrial technology. Creating a new single-subject credential would require an act of the Legislature...

Educators point to other barriers as well: During the last decade, the federal No Child Left Behind standards focused attention on core academic subjects such as math and English. Schools faced penalties if their students failed to perform well on tests that measured proficiency in those core subjects. Computer programming was not among the skill sets emphasized.
I call BS on the NCLB excuse.  California's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) System not only predated NCLB, but required more testing, more often than did NCLB.
Similarly, computer programming is not among the core admission requirements at California’s public universities. The University of California publishes a list of “A-G” subject requirements for students who want to attend one of the system’s colleges. Those requirements include history, English, mathematics, laboratory science, foreign language, and visual and performing arts. Computer science courses are considered one of multiple “college-preparatory electives.”
Nearby UC Davis has created "off the shelf" curricula for integrating computing, robotics, or both into high school math classes.  It's not like this can't be done.

Do you want to know why it isn't being done?  Because education isn't a priority in California.  "Surely you jest", some of you say, when you see how much of the state budget is taken up by education.  On the other hand, California has some of the largest class sizes in the country.  It has some of the lowest test scores in the country.  California's infrastructure, including schools, is crumbling--but we have money to blow on high-speed rail from Fresno to Bakersfield or some such, we have money to blow on social programs (California has less than 1/8 of the US population but has 1/3 of US welfare cases), we have money to blow on environmental rules that encourage businesses to relocate outside of California.  I don't know what California's priorities are, but I know what they aren't

Do you think my school district would pay to send us to UC Davis' training, or for the computers and other equipment needed to outfit our high schools for these classes?  No, because then we couldn't support assistant superintendents, like one for "labor relations", or our many directors, like our ones for "equity" or for "community relations".  We couldn't bring in Canadian motivational speakers.

In a few years I'll have to renew my teaching credential, at a cost of over $100.  Why?  What is the point of having me pay just to be issued a credential--that's not even on paper, but is just in a computer?  Why do I pay for the privilege of being a teacher?  Do cops, firefighters, legislators, mayors, office workers, CalTrans workers, etc, pay for their jobs, too?

California is screwed up.  That is why we don't teach programming in schools.

1 comment:

ObieJuan said...

I've taught Math for over 30 years and I've never seen anything like the UC Davis CSTEM program. Start off by attending one of their two-day workshops just to get a taste - then you can decide if giving up a week of your summer will be worth it to you. You may even have certified trainers in your area, (I've just become one for the Manteca area) - In that case, there might be no cost to you.