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Education Programming

Code.org: Give Us More H-1B Visas Or the Kids Get Hurt 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the send-in-S.W.A.T. dept.
theodp writes "Fresh off their wildly-hyped Hour of Code, Code.org headed to Washington last Thursday where H-1B visas were prescribed as the cure for U.S. kids' STEM ills. 'The availability of computer science to all kids is an issue that warrants immediate and aggressive action,' Code.org told Congress. "Comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund,' suggested Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi, is 'among the policies that we feel can be changed to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools. We hope you can be allies in our endeavors on Capitol Hill.' Also testifying with Partovi was inventor and US FIRST founder Dean Kamen, who also pitched the benefits of H-1B visas (PDF). 'We strongly encourage Congress to pass legislation that directs H-1B visa fees to enable underserved inner-city and rural schools to participate in FIRST,' Kamen testified. 'Specifically, these fees should support efforts to enable underserved inner-city and rural schools to participate in FIRST.'"
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Code.org: Give Us More H-1B Visas Or the Kids Get Hurt

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:23AM (#45964055)

    Like asking if you want fries, or how to fill out forms to receive government cheese.
    Train what you have, fix what you have, rather than importing more of the problem. It's like selling a product at a loss, but making up the profit on volume.
    Dean Kamen is a cool rich guy, and like most rich guys, can afford to advocate things that don't impact him.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:24AM (#45964063)

    ... to make sense anymore.

    They might as well say "Wombat refuges must be funded so as to secure America's future in space exploration.

    The whole thing is a non sequitur.

    Visas have nothing what so ever to do with the academic success of American kids. Nothing.

    Aliens could come bubble out of the 10th dimension and seal the US off in a pocket universe... and guess what... they could still get a decent education. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!?! Because immigration has nothing to do with education. The US could be utterly isolated and yet have a fantastic education system.

    Example? Look at Japan... notice how their education system is terrible because they don't have really permissive immigration policies.

    Oh wait, their education system is great despite having pretty tight immigration.

    Stupidity. Anyone that honestly gets suckered into such arguments should get the word "moron" tattooed on their forehead. Just for efficient identification.

  • by Thantik (1207112) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:27AM (#45964083)

    what they're worth. Flood the market with H1Bs, so they can tank the amount paid because then there is lots of competition. STEM education is there, the people are there, the (large) businesses simply don't want to pay them the $100k+ they deserve. They want a large pool of $20k/yr workers.

  • by JD-1027 (726234) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:31AM (#45964111)
    So what if we allowed zero H-1Bs? Wouldn't wages for these positions go up, which would attract more people to the fields requiring workers. If they need workers so bad, why isn't anyone willing to pay increased wages for it? (tongue firmly planted in cheek) By the way, this is coming from someone who recently helped hire a great programmer and wonderful person from India on this very type of visa.
  • Fuck off (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:32AM (#45964117) Homepage Journal

    There are plenty of coders in the country ready, willing and able to take these jobs. You're just too cheap to pay them what they're worth or willing to wait the three months it will take to get them up to speed.

    Hauling in people from other countries who are no better than the ones here is just an excuse.

    Again, you want the unemployment rate to decline? Hire people who are unemployed. They'll work harder and better for you than someone who has a job because they don't want to go back.

    Oh, and Slashdot, the fuck off applies to you as well. Your interface just plain sucks and selecting 'Classic' doesn't do shit. Hmmm, maybe we do need more H-1B visas so you can read this site.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:35AM (#45964153) Journal
    It's worse than a non-sequitur:

    Let's play EC101 for a second here:

    1. Not enough students are persuing 'STEM' education.

    2. Hypothesis: 'STEM' education needs to be improved, to improve retention and attraction and/or the rewards of pursuing 'STEM' education need to be more visible, greater, or both.

    3. Ergo, we should issue more H-1B visas in order to lower the real wages for workers in 'STEM' fields and thus incentivize more students to study the (even if rewarding, quite challenging) 'STEM' subjects!

    A non-sequitur would be downright sensible by comparison. At least disconnected statements tend to not be internally contradictory...

    If you are having difficulty recruiting students for a subject, why would you possibly want to reduce the rewards for studying a subject? That's the opposite of what you want to do. Now, admittedly, some non-STEM students or STEM-abandoning students are motivated more by shitty teaching or other similar factors than they are by future job prospects; but unless you want to abandon basically all theories of human motivation underlying vaguely capitalist economies, you have to admit that expected payoff is sort of a major factor in whether to stick with hard math or go and do something else.

    This one strikes me as similar to the (also surprisingly common and equally absurd; but self-interested) "We can't attract enough good talent, also wages are too high!" whining from employers. Hey, dumbass, supply curves, no? If you can't attract good talent, how can you also be paying too much? Unless your work environment is brutally fucked on various social levels, if you were overpaying, talent would be knocking down the door to come join you...
  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:43AM (#45964227) Homepage

    Stop reading Slashdot headlines.

    It sounds like Code.org is pushing to have H-1B visa fees earmarked for education programs, rather than just going to general funds.

    I skimmed through TFAs (poorly-organized as they were), and I didn't see anything implying they want more H-1Bs. Rather, the most I saw was implying that there could be an increase in H-1Bs, so it would make sense if that increase also increased STEM funding so we don't need H-1Bs in the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:50AM (#45964279)

    We should shun them, isolate them, and otherwise keep them away from real society. There's no hope for them.

    You were a social worker, and your plan to fix society is to remove the undesirables? Why can't we all get along, social worker? Why? I'll tell you why: because you don't want people to get along.

    I was an inner city American youth, and I was interested in programming, software, and computers. Social workers like you actively prevented me from working in IT because "you live in the inner city so you must be a thug."

    Admit it, social worker. Social workers like you would be out of a job without thugs, wouldn't you? A social worker's real job is to perpetuate social stereotypes, isn't it? You are the problem with society, social worker. You are the problem.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:52AM (#45964299)

    Training them to get government cheese would probably be more useful than teaching them programming. At least then it wouldn't get their hopes up that there are actual jobs awaiting them at the end. It's my experience that most advertised IT jobs these days are just mirage jobs. They're posted for legal reasons and so that tech companies can run to Congress and say "Look at all these jobs we can't fill! We need more H1-B visas!" But if you actually waste your time trying to GET one of those jobs, you'll find that they're as fake and inaccessible as a closed movie set.

    And even the jobs that ARE real have their wages kept artificially low by all the H1B's. And god help you trying to get anything these days in programming if you're over 35 (only hip kids can code, I guess).

  • by Koby77 (992785) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:55AM (#45964341)
    As a side note, the United States is already one of the biggest spenders on education, and yet gets very mediocre results.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/25/where-u-s-stands-in-education-internationally-new-report/ [washingtonpost.com]
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/ [cbsnews.com]

    So even if they decide to throw a lot more funding for this STEM education it is unlikely to have any real impact.
  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:58AM (#45964373)
    As painfully obvious as is the logic, it's a way to present a distasteful, wage-lowering piece of immigration reform in a positive light.

    Your Congressional representative can always use a positive spin to sign something favorable to large campaign contributors.

    For the children.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:59AM (#45964383)

    Citizens have all these pesky rights to quit, ask for raises, etc. that you don't have to worry about when you're employing someone who knows they're going to get booted out of the country if they don't do exactly what you tell them to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:15AM (#45964565)

    Exactly how does programmer or IT person get a job that requires minimum 2 years Win9 experence ? They can't so the company hires H1b and states no local talent.

  • 35% (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:16AM (#45964571)

    35% of IT related graduates over the past three years have failed to find gainful employment in their field. It would seem difficult for a company to justify H1-B employees given that. The only logical conclusion is that H1-B visas are being used for some other purpose than a shortage of skilled workers. I would posit, as many others have, it is to keep costs low to maximize shareholder value.

  • by w1kL3f (316139) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:21AM (#45964645)
    There's a lot of ageism now in the software engineering sector. I'm over 40, first began programming BASIC and C in the 1980s, and have kept current: I now program in Python and JavaScript. Does the latter matter to employers? Not that I see. I'm unemployed and can barely get an interview or a meeting, let alone get hired after they see that I have a couple of strands of grey hair (I still have all my hair, though). Doesn't matter how I dress, or if I wear a hoodie and chucks. I'm old, and apparently that means I'm worthless in this market.
  • by Ken_g6 (775014) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:25AM (#45964693) Homepage

    First, force companies to pay H-1B workers a lot more - unless they pay for training of an American for the entire duration that the H-1B worker works for them. Then, if the American they trained does not work for that same company at least as long as the training period, penalize the company the salary difference they saved. This forces the company to pay the American what they're worth, or lose a lot of money otherwise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:30AM (#45964747)
    You're not 22 anymore, so they can't hoodwink you into working 70 hour "crunch time" 52 weeks a year. You probably expect paid vacation, also.

    Also, regarding these code.org people:
    WHORES! FILTHY SYPHILITIC WHORES! Burning alive is too good for these people.
  • by Cryofan (194126) <cryofan.yahoo@com> on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:32AM (#45964761) Homepage Journal

    get with the program--multiculturalism is COOL and if you are against mass immigration you are a bigot and probably the next Hitler.

    The fact that multiculturalism and mass immigration makes millionaire investors richer is just a coincidence. Just keep saying that....Just keep saying that....Just keep saying that....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:36AM (#45964809)
    If cigarette taxes are earmarked for smoking cessation programs then more cigarettes being purchased means more non-smokers. So yes, it's implied that more cigarette sales would be better.

    What?
  • The attitudes! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:45AM (#45964929)

    GP:

    I constantly talk to people I cannot hire because of raw smarts issues.

    Parent:

    Guess what.. most people are idiots!

    The attitudes! And people wonder why kids are reluctant to go into the field.

    "Hey kids! You need to learn coding! You won't get jobs though because you are stupid! So, sign right up kids!"

    See, if it were me - just lowly stupid-unintelligent me - I'd be creating a campaign to show HOW kids and current coders are coming up short.

    Like, "Hey educators! The analytical skills are coming up short, so how about concentrating on that instead of the technology du jour?"

    And if you are currently having problems finding people, how about ignoring Dice, LinkedIN and other lamoe places.

    But hey! I'm stewpid.

  • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:46AM (#45964937)

    Dean Kamen is a cool rich guy, and like most rich guys, can afford to advocate things that don't impact him.

    The term "limousine liberal" comes to mind.

    Because there is no catchy pejorative coined for right-wing billionaires pushing their own policy preferences?

  • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:52AM (#45964985)

    ....We can't tax the rich since they have the ability to control TAX POLICY...

    There. Fixed that for you.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:52AM (#45964987)

    and there's the rub... there are plenty of programers. The problem is, someone that's smart enough to code is also smart enough to do lots of other things that pay well. It doesn't matter how many coders they get in the market place, they're always going to be able to find a better job in management, accounting, engineering or whatever that pays twice what their employer wants to pay for coding. I'm sorry Microsoft/Apple, coding is not factory work. There's no way you're going to be able to pay minimum wage for this kind of talent.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @11:26AM (#45965331) Journal

    Why is this not modded up? The only ones that believe in free trade and multiculturalism anymore are the 1%ers and politically correct, the rest of us can plainly see the only "trade' is the importing of slaves and the exporting of misery.

    In my own area not only is the local college shutting down the programming courses (because only a fool would go 60K+ in debt to compete with someone who paid peanuts for theirs in India) but construction USED to be a good job for those that weren't able to go to college, now? you can go by any job site and yell "immigra!" and watch them scatter like deer. oh and if they take a header from a scaffold YOU PAY for their medical bills as they are dropped off by the nearest ER with a "tough luck Paco".

    I've been all over the flyover states and have seen first hand what "free trade" has gotten us, its gotten us abandoned factories, boarded up buildings, and for many areas the only "jobs" are applying for government handouts and flipping burgers. To quote George Carlin "You know why they call it The American Dream? because you have to be asleep to believe in it"

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @11:47AM (#45965567)

    Increased immigration ("immigration reform") is usually associated with the "liberals" in this country. The right-wingers are generally associated with anti-immigration sentiments.

    The right-wingers are generally opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens and also want stronger border enforcement, etc. When it comes to increasing the H-1B quota they, or at least their supposed representatives, are all for it. Look at the voting records. The Democrats aren't much different, which is why people get so screwed by the endless stream of H-1B's. This is a bipartisan screwing. Occasionally you get a decent politician like Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who actually want at least some protections, but they're such a small minority it doesn't matter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @12:03PM (#45965757)

    I agree, but not exactly for the same reasons. Within big tech companies there's a disease. It's an ugly disease, and one that needs to be cured. It's called HR. Whenever we have an opening for new people within the company I work for, it's impossible to hire an honest american. Why? Because the recruiters in the HR department put the following requirements:

    Expert in:
    IP Engineering, C Programming, Java Programming, SQL, Unix Administration, Windows Administration, SS7, VoIP, etc, etc etc.

    Also, requires a masters degree or preferable a phd.

    Ok problem 1: Nobody whose honest can get past their computerized screening process. Basically for any and every job we post their screening process makes applications check through a list of technologies. If you say you're not expert in one of those technologies? You're screwed - I never see your resume. So not only do I not see many resumes, but the ones I do are usually people who know so little about technology that they think they're expert in everything that they've heard of. Those people are almost never expert in any one of the technologies listed. That, or they're just plain dishonest. Or they're an H1B visa holder... Which are the only people who ever make it through the screening process (because they're clueless or dishonest or both).

    So I work at a large company, a VERY large tech company. And the process of actually hiring someone who applies to work here is just shit. On top of the stupid screening process, which only exists because we have a lazy HR department (a proper online screening would be relevant to the job), we have this legacy that says we should only being hiring people with masters degrees or better. And quite frankly, the US education system sucks. So many people went into computer science without a passion for it, when I talk to people who do have CS degrees from the states - they're usually people totally disinterested in technology, only went into it because it was the hot thing at the time they were in school and though they'd get good paying jobs. These people don't really care for the job they do, and it turns out know less than the kid who never finished college because he was too busy starting a dotcom with some wizzbang idea that didn't make it. Ironically, that kid is the one we should be hiring but I've seen the rejected applications: we never get to interview him because he wasn't an expert in every single technology and doesn't have a masters.

    And so how does the company get stuff? Well they hire contractors. Some contractors are turned into fulltime employees via skirting the hiring process. Other contractors, after being hired as contractors, and seeing the extra crap that full times go through, combined with higher pay rate that contractors make decide that they don't want to convert to full times. So now you have a company dependent on contractors who make more than their full time counter parts, but in all other ways are equal.

    And what does the employer do? They scream!!!! We can't hire any people in America! We need new blood, new people! And it's true: they can't. They create roadblocks that prevent it through their stupidity. They put power in the hands of HR people who are better off not having any at all (except like, the power to explain to me some question about dental, or to deal with problems of work place shit - but NOT fucking hiring).

    And so you get this big Indian train going. Most of the Indians on this H1B train don't have masters degrees, not real ones anyways. And get this, they don't have tech experience. The ones I've worked with have a 6 month class in technology. They're super duper eager to learn, but they lack base. And guess who has to teach them? And on whose dime? And out of the thousands that move through you're going to encounter a few people who are naturally gifted - and that's great. We got those ones here now, in America, and they're productive. But they're the exception - not the rule. The rule is most of the H1Bs f

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @12:15PM (#45965893)

    If there are lots of people who want to do a job, for a low amount of money, maybe that's all the job is worth. What does it matter what country the people are from.

    Tell you what. First let's eliminate all the immigration and "guest worker" restrictions on doctors, lawyers, accountants, and most importantly, small business people. Then we can get rid of region pricing, greater IP "protections" in the US than elsewhere, the restrictions on people directly importing pharmaceuticals (despite having US prescriptions and the drugs coming from the same plant that the US stuff comes from). There are a bunch of other things, but it might take me 5 or 10 minutes to think of them.

    After all that is done we can talk about freely taking advantage of the "global village's" supply of STEM labor. Otherwise what you're saying is that you're willing to get screwed some more (thank you sir, may I have another) in the pursuit of some economic ideal that's preached to the peasants, while the politically powerful enjoy the fruits of protectionism.

    There is no global village, and there won't be, at least in our lives (and our children's and our grandchildren's). It's a fantasy preached by those who stand to benefit economically, and their numerous sycophants, to people who stand to loose economically. If gazillionaires stand to benefit economically from "free trade" and labor mobility, they and their sycophants will talk about the global village and the virtues of "free trade". If they stand to benefit from keeping things in the US, or defense contracts, then they'll wrap themselves in the flag.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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