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Education Programming

Despite $30M Tech Push, Half of US States Had Fewer Than 300 AP CS Test Takers 152

theodp writes: As President Obama was 'taught to code' last December, Politico reported that the $30 million tech-financed campaign to promote computer science education was a smash success. And indeed it has been, at least from a PR standpoint. But and its backers have long spun AP Computer Science test metrics as a true barometer of CS education success, and from that standpoint, things don't look quite so rosy. The College Board raved about "massive gains in AP Computer Science participation (25% growth) AND scores" in a June tweetstorm and at its July conference, where AP CS was declared the '2015 AP Subject of the Year.' But a look at the recently-released detail on 2015 AP CS scores shows wide differences in adoption and success along gender and ethnicity lines (Asian boys and girls, in particular, set themselves apart from other groups with 70%+ pass rates). And, for all the praise the NSF lavished on for 'its amazing marketing prowess', half of the states still had fewer than 300 AP CS test takers in 2015, and ten states actually saw year-over-year declines in the number of test takers (if my math is correct — scraped data, VBA code here).
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Despite $30M Tech Push, Half of US States Had Fewer Than 300 AP CS Test Takers

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  • theodp (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 26, 2015 @07:47AM (#50801781)

    I don't know what beef theodp has with, or H1B's, or Asians, but his diatribes against education needs to stop. The fact is that there IS growth in CS education (25%). The fact that there are still differences between genders and ethnicity means that we need to target those groups more, which is doing. Also, some states are not participating as well as others. This just means that needs to target those states.

    I don't understand how theodp gets every rant posted to Slashdot. His linkspam xenophobic, anti-education rants are disgusting.

    • Re:theodp (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @08:59AM (#50802087)

      The fact that there are still differences between genders and ethnicity means that we need to target those groups more

      I agree. And that's why I'm launching an initiative to get more men into elementary education. While things are improving in fields like CS, the gender ratio of men in elementary education has remained stagnant at only 13% for decades. The fact that men are far over-represented in dangerous manual labor jobs, like mining and commercial fishing, shows the deleterious effect of having missed out on the professional opportunities afforded them by a career in this field (with a $53,590 average annual salary). And I think it's about time we did something about it!

      And I'm absolutely sure that I can count on the support in this effort of all my liberal friends, who have lead the charge to improve the gender ration in CS and other fields. After all, as they've told me so many times, they're all about equality and fairness.


      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        SO WHO'S WITH ME?

        The UK government, for a start. There have been big improvements [] made in this area after the problem was identified and gained recognition about a decade ago.

        You should contact TA and ask them for advice on your own initiative. Good luck.

        • I've flagged this problem at a few places that were trying to get more women into STEM subjects, and it's starting to see some traction. The two are closely related, if you believe a study from a few years ago that looked at the origins of fear of mathematics in women. Their conclusion was that it's largely due to three factors:
          • Girls tend to develop empathy at a younger age.
          • Most primary school maths teachers are women.
          • Most primary school maths teachers are not actually maths teachers, they're general
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Sadly a lot of people seem to be working hard to prevent more men getting into primary education. My post was modded "flamebait" for even pointing out that the UK has had some success in that area.

            The SJWs really don't want things to improve, because then they would have nothing to complain about.

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              C+ -- Shows marked improvement. There's nothing wrong with, "the idea." There's everything wrong with, "the movement."

              Next lesson: Expecting equal outcomes is a logical fallacy. The goal should be equal opportunities. Figure out why.

          • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )
            Kids pick up on (and latch onto) stranger things. My daughter (age 5) was playing Life the other day. She was the doctor with the yellow ($100,000) salary. My husbanded swapped salaries with her to give her something like the $30,000 salary and she was bouncing up and down with joy... The new salary card was green. Each profession card has two people on it (a boy and a girl) and two colored bars to tell you which salary cards are valid. On the doctor card the yellow bar was underneath the male doctor a
      • And that's why I'm launching an initiative to get more men into elementary education.

        I know you are joking, but this is actually a good idea. Elementary education could be greatly improved with more male teachers. Boys, and especially black boys, do better academically with male role models, and girls do no worse. Male teachers are only a quarter as likely to refer a student for possible ADHD medication. They are more likely to deal with a fidgeting student by making the kid run some laps around the playground.

        • Having been a male teacher I cannot recommend any males to go into this field. I'm not saying it's not rewarding, it is very emotionally rewarding. Nothing beats the feeling that you inspired some young person in their life that day, and the feeling that you may have turned someone's thoughts from suicide to a brighter future keeps you feeling great for weeks.

          But the parents looking for ANY excuse to blame the teacher for their child's problems are a major minefield. And being a male teacher you are ripe

        • I was encouraged by my early college instructors to become a teacher, took a child development course during the summer, and attended an open house event at the local university. The sausage making aspect of becoming a teacher in California turned me off. So much work for so little in return. I scratched that major off my list.
      • And that's why I'm launching an initiative to get more men into elementary education.

        That's great, go you! Out of interest are the existing initiatives sufficiently substandard that you think there's space for a new one?

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          If they were actually being honest and had a viable, logically sound, method that was different than something already being done and would fill a niche then, perhaps, I'd send them a donation. ;-) I suspect that they aren't, don't, and it won't.

      • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

        And that's why I'm launching an initiative to get more men into elementary education. While things are improving in fields like CS, the gender ratio of men in elementary education has remained stagnant at only 13% for decades.... And I'm absolutely sure that I can count on the support in this effort of all my liberal friends, who have lead the charge to improve the gender ration in CS and other fields. After all, as they've told me so many times, they're all about equality and fairness.

        SO WHO'S WITH ME?

        What's weird is that you thought you were making an ironic joke, and that liberals and "SJW"s wouldn't agree with you.

        Kind of backfired when it turns out that everyone agrees with you that more men in elementary education would be great.

        (myself? male, and I taught maths+coding to 9th-12th graders in India and then was special-needs assistant in a 4th grade classroom in the UK. I remember that all the teachers in that elementary school were eager to have more male teachers as well.)

      • I wanted to be a teacher, teaching music, math, or history - and maybe be an assistant coach for the sports I played. I was talked out of it, however, by a teacher because of the money. The heartbreak you go through over money, he said, just isn't worth it.

        Here in Arizona, my own party (GOP) refuses to raise any revenue from new taxes statewide (they've been kicking Janet Napalitano's legacy in the nuts for almost a decade now). As a result, various cities have to pass their own bonds - creating a growing

    • The fact that there are still differences between genders and ethnicity means that we need to target those groups more...

      Name one good reason we need to "target" anybody. If people don't want to work in a field then that's their decision. Whether the reason is cultural or whatever, you're only going to make everyone miserable my lying to them and making them think that they want to work someplace that they don't. This is as dumb as saying that we need more white rappers so let's target white people somehow. Diversity for its own sake doesn't help anybody, so stop pretending that it's a goal worth chasing.

      • by ranton ( 36917 )

        Name one good reason we need to "target" anybody. If people don't want to work in a field then that's their decision.

        Is your contention that grade school and high school students make perfectly rational decisions regarding their educational goals and career choices? Perhaps that is a strawman argument, but at least you are suggesting that adults are unable to assist these students in making educational and career choices that will improve their quality of life. I hope most people do not hold your opinion though, because I think students need considerable guidance when making decisions which may not impact their life signi

      • Really, I've never posted this before because I always think it's obvious and better left unsaid, but your comment was so striking I feel my hand is forced:

    • You don't know what the beef is about H1B Visas? Wow. Take you head out of your ass and read the newspaper moron.
  • CS Educators? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dostert ( 761476 )
    Maybe it's just the Mathematics and Computer Science educator in me, but I think the biggest problem is finding good people to teach CS. Here in South Carolina, you are required to take a CS class prior to graduating HS (of course, learning Word counts as a CS course, but that's a discussion for another time). The problem is, the people who teach these "CS" courses are the baseball coaches, PE teachers, random administrators, and anyone else who don't already teach a full load. There is no such thing as an
    • This is precisely what I have seen. Despite a disproportionate amount of money being spent on technology (iPads, electronic whiteboards, computer stations, etc.), almost no effort is being spent on computer science education in most public schools. The "computer classes" are often even more of a redheaded stepchild than music has become. At least music has a centuries old educational tradition and curriculums to go with it. The curriculum for computer science often focuses on opening an application on o

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Yep. Public schools always have a moron that thinks CS is "spreadsheets and word documents" because they are so uneducated themselves, they don't even have a clue as to what CS actually is. Then they give the class to the Coach or PE teacher who has no clue at all and is following the book word for word. When a student asks a question they use the typical teacher cop out answer of "All the answers are in your course material, find it in there." it means they really have no clue at all themselves.

        And th

        • Because CS is taught in College not high school. There's a lot of business courses and programming courses one can take in high school. Move along Potsy.
    • Thinking along the same lines, I've heard CS students referred to as "poor misguided applied mathematicians." In some ways that's entirely true, since a good deal of my undergrad was focused on word problems, algorithms and complexity analysis. Granted learning to code is a bit different, but a majority of the knowledge comes from that understanding of Math. If we can teach people the applied portion, teach them how to think and reason about the problem, then we'd be most of the way there. It's not a huge
      • If we can teach people the applied portion, teach them how to think and reason about the problem, then we'd be most of the way there. It's not a huge leap from breaking down a problem into a series of steps then coding those steps into a computer. I'd argue the former is much more valuable.

        We don't even learn math in elementary school. We learn computation. We don't learn how math works. In fact, students don't learn math theory until they've already learned how to use a whole bunch of mathematical formulas. For those of us who have to understand how something works to really understand and retain it, this is a big problem. I can program a computer, but I don't understand math very well. That significantly limits the kind of programming I can do. If it weren't for standard libraries I wouldn'

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          You'd still be using standard libraries even if you knew how math works. You shouldn't be constantly reinventing them, and a bunch of people who really know what they're doing have come up with the internals of them. That's why they're a standard, they aren't actually there to be a crutch.

          Not knowing mathematics above a certain level certainly prevents you from coding certain things, but it is not really a career-ender for the great majority of coders.

          I'd encourage you to get into it, because it can be re

          • You'd still be using standard libraries even if you knew how math works. You shouldn't be constantly reinventing them, and a bunch of people who really know what they're doing have come up with the internals of them. That's why they're a standard, they aren't actually there to be a crutch.

            Right, certain situations keep cropping up. But when you need to go beyond that, or modify one of those libraries... often you (well, I) need some math. And then there's optimization.

    • The "problem" is that CS is hard. The biggest problem is that STEM jobs don't get paid as much as other jobs when you factor in intelligence, time, and effort. Simple economics. That's why 3/4 of STEM graduates flee STEM jobs. After all, why stick with STEM when an MBA gets twice the pay for half the work?

    • **NOTE: BEFORE READING MY COMMENT, This is a generalization. meaning it is based on trends of people who I have met during my personal experience, THEY ARE EXCEPTIONS, I have met them. However the General Trend still seems to hold**

      Well there is the following issue:
      Most people with significant skill in Computer Science will get a job with better pay and benefits than teach. It is a skill that is in High Demand. So other than some altruistic or life calling motive (where you could still get a better paying

    • I've seen the same thing in Kansas, who ever they convince to teach their {MS Office} Computers class {social sciences teacher} has no training and is less knowledgeable than the students when it comes to technology.

      Don't get me started on how they no longer allow the students to do any experiments that with a Bunsen burner because insurance or budget.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it is pointless to push people into jobs they have no desire to do in the first place?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This. The people who succeed as programmers are the people who are genuinely interested in the subject, who are willing to spend their free time exploring the topic and expanding their knowledge out of love of the topic. These people would be drawn to study the subject anyway. Forcing kids (or anyone) to learn something they really don't have any interest in rarely ends in anything but them disliking it more and driving them away.
    • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BVis ( 267028 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @11:09AM (#50802935)

      If everyone had a job that they desired (or even liked) the US economy would collapse.

      You know the saying "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life"? The whole saying should include "because they're not going to pay you for doing something you love". Oh yeah, I can hear people saying "rabble rabble I do what I love rabble you're stupid if you don't rabble rabble". You guys are the vast vast minority. If everyone were like that, well, the number of Excel fetishists in the population would rise to truly disturbing levels.

      Work, in summary: You perform services for pay that you would not otherwise do. And if you DO like it, never tell your employer. They'll stop giving you raises because you're less likely to quit a job if you like it.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        They're not going to give you a raise anyway. You might as well let them know.

        Just make sure that they also know that you can love your work at a business that gives regular and appropriate raises.

        Enjoying your work doesn't mean it ceases to have value, and if your boss thinks that your enjoyment means they'll never lose you, they're chumps.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a STEM worker, I most definitely wouldn't want my kids to take up a STEM career. You're not assets, you're expenses that need to be cut.

  • I'm sorry, but we also have to remember that headed into this market, your average student will only hear negatives about the long term prospects. CS is a huge field. On the hardware side we have large corporations bringing in H1b workers to replace Americans, on the coding side they don't bother buying them a plane ticket. College is expensive and why invest in poor job prospects with limited to no security?
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @08:25AM (#50801903) Homepage

    I convinced several young students to NOT even look at CS because most companies are Asshole scumbags to their programmers. Also the fact that some moron BSA will find he can save $1.25 this quarter by firing all the programmers and outsourcing to China or India yet again makes job volatility.

    I convinced them to chase down Cyber Security or if they really want to program, specalize in embedded systems with a EE degree along with CS so they end up above the typical CS grad applying for the jobs.

    General CS is the factory work of the 21'st century. Nobody sane will go into it until it's unionized and a lot of managers forcing 60-80 hour work weeks get their knees broken. Because these asshole companies and managers are not going to change out of the goodness of their own hearts.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fact is unless you're the cream of the crop, you're going to be working in a company where the manager probably has a finance degree or an accounting degree. In any case, she will think you're perfectly happy programming and, when you need help, will hire another accounting/finance degreed manager so that you can now write two status reports. The problem is that even though you're just as qualified (maybe you need help with budgeting), you won't be considered for any job other than technical something or

      • I would also mention that two prevailing methodologies, Agile and Object-Oriented, specifically are designed to make IT workers a commodity.

        What? Object-oriented programming came from a simulation language, in which it actually made real logical sense to talk about "objects". You can argue about whether OO makes more sense for modeling the real world or not, and people do, but that was why it was invented.

      • by BVis ( 267028 )

        The problem is that even though you're just as qualified (maybe you need help with budgeting), you won't be considered for any job other than technical something or other and there are many positions that are like that.

        Why is this a problem? In my most recent job search, I could have been considered for "lead" or "architect" programming positions. Indeed, after my current career step (senior dev) I would have to take a position like that to move up. So why didn't I?

        Because I don't want to become the thin

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          So, don't get a job like that, and the problem is solved, right? Nope. Next time I go to apply for a job, the shithead HR drone will look at my work history and say "Wow, he's been a senior dev for twelve years. Why hasn't he gotten a lead or manager job? Must be something wrong with him."

          Almost no one is going to think that from looking at a resume. Many companies don't have a distinction between Senior Developer and Lead Developer, so no one will hold that against you. They will look at your list of accomplishments under the job title to determine capabilities, not your job title.

          Once they talk to you in person, then your lack of managerial accomplishments may count against you. But this is only if your employer wants someone who can help manage / mentor other developers or who can grow in

          • by BVis ( 267028 )

            This may be the vast majorities of employers, but they should not be expected to craft their job openings based on the type of work you like to do. It would be no different than hating an employer who requires Javascript knowledge for their senior web developer because you prefer to write code in the back end.

            That is not the point which I am trying to make. My point is that I am happy as a developer. I do not want to manage people. I do not expect employers to tailor their jobs to my skill set. A job de

    • Your sentiments echo mine. I tell everyone I know to stay out of CS even if they like doing it. At best you get a bottom of the barrel job, and worst you get that job and train your H1B replacement.
  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @08:36AM (#50801957) Homepage Journal
    After graduating high school in 1980 I was told that computer programming was going to be essential in the future economy. I took it - twice - and learned from it. But I would say it's kind of like knowing how to fix a car. As much as I admire car mechanics, the "essential" skill of being able to replace spark plugs and timers which my grandfather showed me as a child in the 1960s turned out less urgent than advertised. The essential thing is to know just enough about fixing a car to know what a mechanic is charging you for. I think we should be generally concerned about kids getting a general education in how stuff works, and coding is a part of that, but TFA seems to be elevating it above geography, languages, math, shop, finance, logic, etc. I'm actually most alarmed by the lack of logic courses in school, when I'm hiring logic and ability to think are the most important skill sets. And coding is a great indicator of that, but not the only one.
    • I'm actually most alarmed by the lack of logic courses in school, when I'm hiring logic and ability to think are the most important skill sets. And coding is a great indicator of that, but not the only one.

      Agreed. You had to be in a GATE program just to get any of that kind of material in my elementary school. We did little logic puzzles, practiced speed reading with a machine, just some other basic stuff that no child should have to be labeled to receive if they happen to be done with their classwork for the day. Just send them to the library with an assignment.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And coding is a great indicator of [logic and ability to think], but not the only one.

      It's only an indicator of ability in a subset of logic: binary. Programming is not an indicator of ones ability in verbal logic or reasoning.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      I was self-taught in BASIC, because I was one of those "dorky kids" who wanted one of the early home computers as a Christmas gift, back when the owner's manual for one was hundreds of pages long and mostly covered how to program in BASIC for it. (Then, I'd buy or check those books out at the library with lists of BASIC programs you could manually key in and run. Typically, they'd be slightly broken because a given computer didn't have quite the same implementation of BASIC as the book author assumed was

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Your problem is that you learned BASIC and not COBOL. Your COBOL programmers are your mechanics who are fixing up the old cars, BASIC was a toy, albeit a useful one for learning certain things.

        You can still make good money as a COBOL programmer. The only problem is that you have to program in COBOL... and work for places that still use COBOL.

        In that sense, the mechanic fixing the old cars probably does have an advantage.

  • by HoldmyCauls ( 239328 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @08:46AM (#50802011) Journal

    This is my second full year teaching 11th and 12th graders at the local BOCES CTE department. I have no industry background, but a strong interest in programming. I know I am not an ideal candidate for teaching the content, so you'll have to trust me when I say there is no one more qualified who would do the job for the money, and the change from my last job is a huge benefit for me as suddenly I'm spending a lot less money on gas and I have a job that is challenging but worth the challenge. For some reason, an actual Computer Programming course is the only thing for which funding is not on offer, unless of course we cater to several girls, which does not seem to happen much.

    As noted in several other comments, this type of job usually falls to someone who has never written a line of code; I have a goal this year to write a program that the students at least will use, and that I will post to GitHub. I have been a follower of many open source projects and I am very familiar with the community. I have little teaching experience, but I am making the most of my PD and taking the courses required for CTE teacher certification (i.e. not a Master's in teaching but a handful of required undergrad courses).

    The current "industry-based" assessment for the program is the NOCTI -- a test that has no guidelines on content, language or other skills but requires students to make a form to purchase music items in order to be certified. I am open to suggestions and have put a feeler out to Google's Education twitter handle to see if they know of something more relevant, but have gotten no response. Without a certified industry assessment, I am doomed to fail my students, and to be labelled ineffective as a teacher. I am willing to work on an assessment and curriculum based on community and open source software, but to my knowledge no one else is working on this. It would be great to produce it myself, and I am not afraid of the work, but I doubt that I could get it certified by any authority without backing from a major household-name industry player such as Google. For some reason all material I find online is geared toward teachers in core subjects teaching a week or so of programming.

    As for AP CS, the requirement for me to be able to give my students the credit for AP is that I myself have taken all the required courses in CS that a professor in college would have -- i.e., a Master's in CS plus a prereq undergrad courses. I started college in a CS program, but changed colleges and majors in order to earn a BA in English (I know, I know...). The AP seems to favor Java, which is not problematic for me as that's on what my first year of college focused. The initial courses required for AP require hundreds of dollars that are not on offer for new teachers; I have dropped over $1000 so far just to maintain the requirements for initial certification and the course I am taking now will cost another $1000. Reimbursement is offered but there are so many gotchas that it's worth it to plunk down the cash and then beg for it back.

    The good news is that between O'Reilly's free "Safari for Schools" library containing much recent material on diverse fresh topics such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Python, web apps and mobile apps, and traditional technologies and languages such as SQL (especially MySQL), C++, etc, as well as possible school-wide access to, I could teach the students literally anything they might want to know about programming. Unfortunately, I need to focus on a set of industry skills and narrow that to get them to pass the above-mentioned NOCTI assessment in order that some of them will earn a gold seal.

    Any advice is appreciated. I'm looking forward to many years working with young people providing what I wished for during those same years. I have a supportive administration (except when it comes to finance, until I can prove I know what I need and why) and fellow faculty, and the best students I could ask for. I need to be a better programmer and teacher, and fast.

    • Any advice is appreciated.

      Move to India?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mod up! Here is the problem in CS education: not only are almost all HS CS instructors completely incompetent, but no school administrator has the slightest clue as to how to recognize a competent CS instructor. Clearly here is an ideal CS instructor who has a clue, but needs some completely meaningless education certification BS*.

      *I fell qualified to make this judgement, having a undergrad education degree and a teaching certificate before doing a "beam me up Scottie, there's no sign ..." and getting a S

    • by reiscw ( 2427662 )

      AP CS teacher here with a BS in EE and a MEd in secondary mathematics.

      You do not need a content master's degree to teach AP courses. You do not even need a master's degree in general to teach AP courses. Since the college credit is awarded based on the results of an examination completely out of the control of the instructor, the instructor's specific credentials are not as relevant as they would be if he/she was teaching it at a university with complete control. It may be that your state has added req

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        You're right. Although I got more out of my AP classes than simply test prep. You're going to get a better CS training out of a teacher who knows their stuff. Of course, you can't really get choosy if you need to fill staff positions in High Schools, but there's a real benefit for getting the real thing.

    • I'm not an educator and I might be naive here but have you gotten in contact with your local colleges and universities where it comes to computer science? Many of your students will likely end up there and those departments should be interested in helping you on a curriculum and focus that can fill in gaps before they arrive.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Not sure whether you're allowed to do this but just let the students pick what they're interested in and have them do that. Have them work in a team, have them research the subject.

      Programming is not about rote memorization of chunks of code, it's a process of discovery. If they have to pass a certain test, allow them to do an open-book test completion thing. Pretty sure they can Google the results the tests expects.

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        That's not a bad way of doing it, but it won't help with an AP exam, and unfortunately, it appears that the AP exam is the standard by which they are measuring things here.

        Which is not to say the AP exam is horrible as a tool, but it does require you to structure your class in a way that will provide test prep, and so you have to stay on task with what may be on the test.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    With rampant outsourcing and offshoring, along with US Citizens being replaced by H1B visa holders, they'll be forced to train their replacements.

    Why would anyone study CS? There are no stable career paths there. Every CS job will go overseas eventually

  • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @09:06AM (#50802131) Journal
    ...despite massive investment. No surprises here: social engineering has very low success rates.
  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @09:18AM (#50802199) Homepage Journal
    What did they do with the money? My guess is they sent Obama on a speaking tour or a vacation and didn't actually give any of it to schools. I know my kids high school didn't have any kind of discussion over how to spend the money from this new program.
    Of course, even if every penny was sent to schools, which I'm pretty sure it was not, when you divide it amongst 131,000 public and private schools, that is only $229 each, so there probably doesn't have to be a big discussion about what to do with it. You could buy a desk and chair that you could eventually put a computer on after you have raised the money for one.
  • by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @09:54AM (#50802433)
    The last 40 years American education has worked to make everyone equal. No one stands out. If they do, they likely get shunted over to a specialized tech high school. Too many kids are brought up with the all-participants-get-a-ribbon mentality. The bright kids that are capable of working hard to get ahead are actually discouraged by the US educational system, so that the dumber ones don't feel bad. The US has hurt itself in so many ways with the stupid PC thinking. In life there are winners and losers. Teach the kids to compete and win, until they find what they're good at. Asian kids know that they have to work hard to get ahead, while many US kids are coddled at school and by their parents. US Education has been heading in the wrong direction since 1970, just after the Supreme Court gave kids "rights" in school not to be slapped when acting out, etc.
  • IMO Taking ïthe AP CS exam is not as important as ïthe tech industry would have us believe. ïthe most important concepts such as sorting and searching algorithms are not really tested on ïthe test. Most people should be able to quickly learn object orientation and how java implements things like abstract classes, etc when introduced at ïthe university level.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @10:41AM (#50802741)

    I think a good chunk of STEM parents hitting the magic middle age mark during their kids' schooling are living examples of why not to study STEM subjects. I'm sure there are a fair number of developers and IT workers who have been forced to train their replacements and tossed out, all while their kids are watching. I know not everyone experiences this, but when you're 18, if you hear about a field having no future, do you flock to it even if it's fun or interesting?

    The only truly safe routes if you want steady employment are medicine on the high end and trades on the low end. Medicine is safe because doctors were smart enough to form a trade organization to limit entrants, set standards, bribe Congressmen, etc. Trades are safe because they're not outsourceable, and in union states, operate on a guild/apprenticeship system. Law used to be safe, but the Bar Association started doing things that IT employers are doing, such as allowing offshoring and pumping up law school enrollment to increase supply and reduce salaries. The legal profession used to be a guaranteed meal ticket, regardless of where you graduated from -- now it's a closed club requiring you to be in the top of your class at a top 5 law school to get a lucrative job and make back your investment.

    I still think it's time for tech workers to form a trade guild before it's too late to rescue the profession. Companies hate paying high wages for uneven-quality work. And because tech workers refuse to associate, they're able to pass favorable immigration laws and push agendas like "everyone can code." I feel that computers are essential now, and it's time to get out of the wild west phase of the profession...sure it's great to innovate and try new stuff, but when programming languages, platforms and frameworks get thrown out every year, nothing stable ever gets built. As an experienced worker who learned from a lot of other experienced pros on the way up, the loss of entry level (apprentice-level) work to offshoring bothers me because that's where your next generation of talent comes from -- not coder academies and forcing disinterested high school students into AP CS classes.

  • Were more AP classes offered? If not, they sure as shit weren't going to graduate more students. In the systems I've seen, once a class fills up, nobody else can sign up for it...first come, first served. Did they expect more students to sign up w/o adding more classes & educators?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"