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United States Education Programming

US Dept. of Ed: English, History, and Civics Teachers Good Enough For CS Class 242

theodp writes: In A New Chapter for Computer Science Education, the U.S. Department of Education explained earlier this month that the federal STEM Education Act of 2015 'provides an unprecedented opportunity to fully leverage federal resources' to address large gaps in students' participation in Advanced Placement (AP) computer science classes based on gender and race. "In three states," lamented the DOE, "not a single female student took the AP computer science exam" (that only 8 boys took the AP CS exam in those same 3 states was apparently not a concern). And the DOE has good news for those hoping to tap Title I and II funds for CS, but don't have any computer science teachers. "A background in math or science isn't necessarily a requirement to teach CS," explains the Dept. of Ed, "as disciplines like English, history and civics can also provide a solid foundation for teaching CS concepts."
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US Dept. of Ed: English, History, and Civics Teachers Good Enough For CS Class

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  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @06:38AM (#51200777)

    And people wonder why so many jobs are outsourced?

    • Re: Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is a major problem here in upstate NY. At my kids' school nearly half of the teachers aren't qualified to teach the subjects they currently teach. We a have science teacher teaching math, an English teacher teaching science, and a math teacher that teaching english. Meanwhile, the principle has 14 administrative assistants and is the most abusive, sexist woman I have ever seen. Racism is through the roof as well (though that is district wide, not just from her).

      • The US has decided teachers are overpaid unionized swine, and have created a new paradigm of minimum wage private corporate schools to pauperize them. At the same time, they're blamed for everything wrong with education, even to the point of blaming them for bring stretched too thin. And idiots have decided they will install testing and useless grinding work over their objections. Who the HELL would want to be a teacher?

        • Re: Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @12:15PM (#51202361) Journal

          The US has decided teachers are overpaid unionized swine, and have created a new paradigm of minimum wage private corporate schools to pauperize them

          I work in education. The "US" hasn't decided anything. Schools hiring teachers are limited to paying UNION wages for far too many subpar teachers, who whine and complain about having to take continuing education without being paid a stipend. The biggest problem IMHO to the problem with Teachers is that there is NO competition for good teachers. Teachers live where they can get a job, and there is very little (if any) incentive to have teachers improve their skill sets.

          And due to the complete lack of competition, and the inability for any district to hire "the best, at whatever cost" they are left wanting bodies to fill positions.

          And to be very clear, every school district has some really fine and outstanding teachers, most good teachers. What I am talking about are the hanger ons that would otherwise be unemployable without a teacher's credential, who are there to fill seats in chairs in front of students. The problem is, you cannot dodge all the raindrops, and there are enough of them to matter.

          And to my point about teachers who won't take basic skills classes (where they need them) to learn how to properly use Technology in the classroom, without getting paid stipend, it really does matter. I simply look at it this way, teachers who don't want to learn, for learning sake aren't good teachers. Period. And this is proven by a recent training a colleague of mine did, training 2nd Grade kids, and Teachers/staff the exact same "introduction to Chromebooks", and the 2nd Graders fared much better than the adults. They paid attention, didn't talk, and learned how to log in (barely able to write) to Google/Chrome with much more ease. So even being paid to learn 2nd Graders were able to out compete the teachers.

          When teachers don't want to (or can't) learn, it is a sign they shouldn't be teaching. Best teachers I know, all of them have a singular quality, thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning. Far too many teachers basically said "I don't want to learn anymore, I'm done" and that translates directly into the passion they have in the classroom.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            far too many subpar teachers, who whine and complain about having to take continuing education without being paid a stipend.

            It's an ongoing refrain (like for years) here about how horrible employers are for expecting IT people to spend their own time and money constantly training themselves on new technologies, new languages or new frameworks or else get laid off for some cheap new graduate who happened to see those things in college classes.

            If new knowledge training is required for your job and directly benefits your employer, why the hell shouldn't the employer be expected to pay for either your training hours or the training

            • My employer expects me (part of my job description) to keep up with the latest trends in technology. I have to learn. I generally don't get paid to expand my skill set. On rare occasion, I have been sent off to additional training, but it is only because the Director insisted on it as part of expanding the department's capability.

              And we're not talking day long trainings here, we're talking about 1-2 hours class on occasion, so that teachers can be more effective in their classes. We've offered training for

          • "The problem is, you cannot dodge all the raindrops, and there are enough of them to matter."


            It is the stated agenda of the GOP to break unions, on any level. Search using "GOP Union Break." Basically, billionaires like the Koche's, and Brood's can make a whole lot of money treating teachers like minimum wage youth earners. Educators as a group are public confrontation avoiders, and are thus prime victims of financial "leveraging." As for the "Hangers On," name one industry that doesn't have them
    • Actually in India they are taught network subnetting, node.js, mcse Windows troubleshooting skills, and not just mathematics and theory with stale old languages that is American and European CS.

      So no wonder corporations LOVE what they see for entry level employees. It is not just price you know why business loved India contrary to comments here.

      The argument is as old as Slashdot itself. Theory important YES! But is that what is needed in the 21st century for EVERY use case? Don't give me the bs that is what

      • CS is obsolete and needs a medium. English teachers yes would not be qualified but part of the problem is CS itself

        CS is not obsolete. The problem is that the scope of CS has been expanded too much to include low-level skills that require training rather than education. So instead of learning good principles, students are expected to learn specific applications of those principles. Which works for the short term, as students taught to be MS Windows experts become MS Windows experts, but ultimately disastrous when the next IT technology shift comes around, like the current rage about apps and the mobile web.

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          In other words, what you learn in CS is fundamental to all technology forever. I recently read that technological knowledge usefulness has a half-life of about 5 years and shrinking. Learning technology is almost useless with the increasingly fast paced evolution of technology. Best to focus on the fundamentals which are eternally true.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @06:40AM (#51200789) Journal

    They have no students. They operate no schools. They piss away billions of dollars and damage education by imposing bullshit federal regulations on local schools.


    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @07:56AM (#51201037)

      They have no students. They operate no schools.

      And worst of all, they have no clue what CS is. They think CS is writing a document in Word, creating an Excel spreadsheet and googling.

      Hey, English teachers can do that, so English teachers can teach CS!

      I'm just wondering where the folks at the DoE got their educations . . . ?

    • Creationism (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I live in a county where a few years ago, we had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars because some Christian Fundie wanted "Intelligent Design" and the "controversy of Evolution" taught in our biology classes.

      Our CS budget went to lawyers.

      Local control of schools isn't such a good thing.

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )


      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        The problem is government control of schools, at any level. As long as there's a near-monopoly on schooling, the curriculum is going to be a political issue. In a free market for schools, idiots will send their kids to schools that teach creationism, marxism, scientology, or keynesian economics, and smarter people will send their kids to schools that reject the woo-woo.


    • They have no students. They operate no schools.

      That's true because DoE [] is the Department of Energy which has nothing to do with education.

      They piss away billions of dollars and damage education by imposing bullshit federal regulations on local schools.

      What specific "bullshit federal regulations" are you referring to? The Department of Education by far the smallest cabinet department and with the exception of the No Child Left Behind act (mandated by CONGRESS) they really don't have much involvement in the day to day running of schools in the US. The ED coordinates federal assistance, enforces civil rights, and collects data. They are not heavily involved in dete

      • by hesiod ( 111176 )

        Facts have no place in a discussion about education!

      • They have no students. They operate no schools.

        That's true because DoE [] is the Department of Energy which has nothing to do with education.

        They piss away billions of dollars and damage education by imposing bullshit federal regulations on local schools.

        What specific "bullshit federal regulations" are you referring to?

        Anything - We have us here, a true Teabagger, who thinks the only thing the Government should do is pay for his hoveround, and his medicine - but not anyone elses, cuz thatz socialism! -

        They have no idea about anything, but they are very enthusiastic about hating everything else as long as they get theirs.

    • Minor semantics. DOE is the Department of Energy. The Department of Education is ED (Education Department) [].
    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      yes, well, thank you for proving that you don't truly have any idea what the DOE actually does.

    • They have no students. They operate no schools. They piss away billions of dollars and damage education by imposing bullshit federal regulations on local schools.


      Not only that, it's a federal agency that clearly and unquestionably falls outside the Constitutional (read: legal) boundaries of the federal government. The DoE was established in the late 1970s, so it's not even been around that long. Shutting it down would do a lot of good and would be a good start toward returning the federal government to a more legal size.

      • No it isn't. The legal authority to create an agency isn't limited by the constitution. You are a moron.
        The constitution limits the authority to pass laws. The federal department of education does not enforce any laws and is therefore entirely legal.

        Have you read the constitution?

    • You mean education standards based on the expert recommendations of pedagogy experts and researchers?
      You mean science standards that aren't based on religion or mythology?

      Why doesn't it make sense to have a federal standard for education? Because we wind up with "common core"? You realize that common core was a wildly successful and heavily endorsed set of standards that almost everyone in education circles thought was a great idea? The only reason you hate it is because you are too stupid to understand how

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        Are you seriously trying to defend common core by argumentum ad veracundiam?

        Look at the results, you bootlicking pinhead.


        • by jcr ( 53032 )

          almost everyone in education circles

          Oh, you mean the same pack of assholes who have let American primary education go to shit over the last four decades, regardless of how much tax money they got to piss away?


  • Unconvinced... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @06:47AM (#51200809) Journal

    Back in the mid 1990s, my (otherwise extremely good) private school found itself caught off-guard by the need to provide IT teaching. With no existing staff with computer science experience, it went about trying to rectify the situation in fairly horrible ways. First, it recruited what it thought was an IT specialist from industry, only to find he was a chemical engineer with no more than a basic level of computing literacy (and no teaching qualifications). He lasted a year.

    Then it decided to use non-specialists to teach IT classes, having basically bought a bunch of mail-order courses. I'll emphasise that this was a private fee-paying school with high academic standards that would never have considered this approach for any other subject.

    Anyway, the level of teaching was predictably disastrous. The teachers drafted in to cover the subject (including a number of elderly Catholic Priests) lacked any kind of background in it. Not only couldn't they teach the subject, but they couldn't convey why they were even trying to teach the subject. They would spend each lesson reading from one of those mail-order worksheets, with no idea how to either advise a pupil who was having problems, or how to recover the lesson if something went wrong.

    The fact that the school's computer lab functioned at all was basically down to the volunteer efforts of a few of the more IT literate students (self-included), who would fix things after the latest balls-up and be called on during free-periods to get an IT lesson back on track after a teacher encountered an error message he hadn't seen before. I didn't particularly mind at the time; I wasn't taking any qualifications in IT, so the quality of the teaching didn't matter to me and helping out earned me a few perks. In particular, it got me out of the compulsory (but non-academic) religious education classes from ages 16-18.

    But for those who were actually taking the subject formally (admittedly only a tiny handful in my year-group) it was a pretty catastrophic situation. In any other subject (including the practical ones such as design and technology), my school expected its teachers to be in command of their area. IT was just seen as being different somehow.

    • Re:Unconvinced... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @07:13AM (#51200893) Journal

      When I was in 8th grade, I got my hands on an Interdata 8/32 system that had a pair of teletype ASR-33s, and a BASIC interpreter. I spent a year mostly waiting for my turn at one of the two keyboards that about a dozen of us wanted to use. I typed in BASIC games from David Ahl's book, and I played around with punching large letters on the paper tape and printing out ASCII art.

      In my high school, we had a computer lab with three HP terminals, that connected through a leased line to a pair of HP2000 and an HP3000 minicomputer. The HP machines were able to submit batch jobs to an IBM 360 through an RJE(remote job entry) facility.

      My computer teacher was a retired USAF colonel who had some experience with mainframes, and some exposure to basic concepts of computing back in the 1950s and early 60s. For most of the kids, concepts like hashing and basic statistical methods were over their heads, so he taught me and two or three of my friends, and we taught the class.

      The main thing we got out of the school's computer lab was access. The most interesting things we did had nothing to do with the curriculum, they were all after-school and free period projects. We learned how to defeat the trivial security that HP had at the time, we wrote BASIC programs that did fun tricks on the CRT terminals with cursor control, we had a rudimentary chat and e-mail system which the administration kept trying to shut down, and we got our hands on a BASIC rewrite of Crowther & Woods Adventure, and later Zork games, which we experimented with and modified. About this time, a handful of my friends were getting their hands on Apple and Atari computers at home.

      Where I really learned to write code was on my first two computing jobs: the first was a company that was developing games for Cox Cablevision to run on a set-top box that they were test marketing. The second job was where I learned the C language, by writing code and making every possible mistake while sitting in an office beside two much more skilled C developers (one of whom later went on to serve on the ANSI committee that standardized the language.)

      In the years since then, every good programmer I've worked with has been largely self-taught, and they started at the same age or earlier than I did. I'm convinced that the best thing an elementary or high school can hope for today is just letting kids figure it out by working with their peers on whatever interests them.


      • Absolutely, a first CS-type class should be one that just introduces a little bit of programming, something with some fun/visual feedback. Just enough to introduce programming to the kid so they can find out if they have any inherent interest or curiosity. **IF** such interest/curiosity exists then let them sign up for an elective class that is more traditional CS in nature.

        And yes, the better developers are self-taught and this includes those who went through a formal university program. If one goes to
    • I have nothing against CS degrees, I have two of them. That said ...

      My high school's CS-type class was the electrical shop class. Yes, the shop class where you normally learn electrician type stuff, wiring up a light and switch for example. Our cranky old not far from retirement shop teacher said on day one that he wasn't going to teach us electrician stuff, well he would if someone asked but he decided to teach us digital electronics because he thought that would be more useful. His background ... he le
    • Out of curiosity, do you know if your school was just caught flat-footed(none of their existing recruiting channels/methods of evaluating applicants or recruiting people supplied teachers with the necessary skills), or did it fall into the ugly morass where people can't quite decide what "IT" or "CS" or "Computer Literacy" is supposed to involve; and so predictably fail to find the right person for the job because they don't actually know what the job is?

      It's not necessarily an easy position to get teach
      • Believe me, it was nothing like as sophisticated as "we can't tell the difference between IT/CS/Computer Literacy". It was more "all of a sudden these computer things are everywhere, there are qualifications in them, universities are offering courses in them and fee-paying parents are starting to expect us to teach them".

        As a private school, they tend to recruit from outside of the usual teacher-training pathways (though they were never above poaching good state-school teachers who wanted to spend more time

    • how many of you CS types want to quit your 100k plus jobs and go work for a lot cal school for 25k? See the problem? Those who can have no desire to teach, and anyway, the whole point of this is to flood the market with state-paid-for CS trained kids at as cal se to minimum wagecas possible. The "emergency" is that CS people are paid too well.

      • Damned autocorrect!!!!

      • The really sad thing is 100k/year is actually not so much, not compared to the wealth we have. School pay has taken a beating in recent years, but a high school principal is still earning on average about 85k. School administrator pay varies widely, sometimes being as little as 40k. Some of these charter schools are more for lining the pockets of top officials than educating students, and there the pay can be well over 100k. Sometimes the most overpaid person is the football coach. College football is c

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        Even of the decent programmers, how many can actually teach? Many people good at their job are not good at teaching.
    • At the same time, your story really emphasizes what I believe is the central reality to programming: those who are good at it are mostly self-taught or can be self-taught. Put another way, the kids who didn't learn from the priest weren't going to learn anyway, and you learned it without someone like that helping you.

      My wife is an RN. She said that when she was in university in the late 1980s she was considering either IT or nursing, both of which were tickets to America. She thankfully chose nursing or

  • by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @06:54AM (#51200837)
    This is such a typical gov response to a problem. Too many widgets of one type simply pound them into whatever shape necessary until someone decides either the problem is solved or the "solution" didn't work.
  • 1337 H@xorz pwn teaching U english 2!

  • In accounting secondary school, old typewriting teachers were converted to CS teachers. [] (sorry, only Italian)

  • Why no interest?
    It's a boring subject.
    Requires math that breaks the mind, and is mostly not used anyway.
    It is largely a male, nerdy profession.
    It's socially isolating.
    It's full of hardcore Ayn Randite bosses.
    Big one: you are, if you haven't become an executive or started your own compamy by the age of 30-35, in for a a VERY short career. One of those businesses where a 22 year old is always superior to a 30 year old come startup or promotion time.
    So, we say goodbye and good riddance to Dilbert land, and go

    • And, oh yes, other posters are spot on: you fired us all and replaced us with H1Bs. Or shipped the jobs out overseas. And are jamming all channels with desperate measures to generate scads of new CS grads so you all can drive wages down with a massive oversupply of coders that speak local English.

    • "Always" is a powerful word. "Often", perhaps, but I'm over 30, work at a software company, have worked there since I graduated with an undergrad cs degree, have no interest in becoming an executive, and got a pretty nice raise last year, and another one this year. And my boss, who is at least as talented a developer as I am, is female, and is married with a a kid, so presumably sex is being had (with other people) by at least one other member of my team (I obviously don't ask about my coworkers' sex lives,

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @09:10AM (#51201283)

    History, and Civics Teachers should talk about H1b and how they are used to bypass labor laws / make them be locked into the job.

  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter&tedata,net,eg> on Tuesday December 29, 2015 @09:25AM (#51201367) Journal

    In my home state of Minnesota, they allow anyone with either a business licensure or a mathematics licensure to teach computer science. In college, I majored in Computer Science and Secondary Mathematics Education. I found it ironic that it was my math licensure that allowed me to teach computer science and not my computer science degree. I found it just as silly that I was not allowed to teach keyboarding; mathematics teachers are not qualified for that. Also, just as amusing, anyone in the state with an English licensure is licensed to teach web page design.

    It's a complete joke that our government advocates for increased computer science education, while in the same breath says that anyone can teach it. By that same perverse logic, I should be fully qualified to become a law professor. Right? Computer science is very logical...very layered...very structured...lots of inheritances...sounds like a good foundation of law to me.

    • by IMightB ( 533307 )

      i majored in secodary ed at toledo, with minors in cs and math. did my first year of student teaching and said fuck this bullshit.

  • Because many school districts pay a premium to teachers of STEM subjects (and more for AP and Honors courses) the teaching slots for those classes are highly sought-after. The result is that they go to the teachers who have clout (seniority, connections, etc.) regardless of their actual ability to even understand the material.

    Example: my kids' high school AP calculus class was taught by someone who had never taken a college-level math class, while another teach with a math PhD was stuck with remedial class

  • And that, boys and girls, is where crapware comes from.

  • I think kids need to feel comfortable experimenting with computers, that means being ok with messing it up.

    So if schools were to teach how to set up and roll their computer system back to a restore point (I don't care which OS), that would be a good start.

    Then again, I use a Chromebook, I do system restores periodically just for fun.

  • Did CS become the generic bucket for computer related stuff?
    I always differentiated between programming, development, software engineering, and Computer Science myself as different things, all computer related.
    Now, seems like CS is the catch-all term. Am I just behind?
  • Saying "A background in math or science isn't necessarily a requirement to teach CS," explains the Dept. of Ed, "as disciplines like English, history and civics can also provide a solid foundation for teaching CS concepts." is akin to saying I can teach medicine because I'm dating a nurse. CS is fundamentally linked to math (logic). English, history and civics are studies of humans, and humans by nature are illogical.

  • When I was in high school, there were plenty of teachers who taught subjects that they weren't necessarily trained in. Unfortunately, they happened to be the coaches for the sports teams:

    Civics = Football Defensive Line Coach
    General Science = Baseball Coach
    History = Football Offensive Line Coach
    Free Enterprise = Men's Basketball Coach
    Physical Education = Track Coach (this one actually makes sense)
    Geography = Women's Basketball Coach

    This isn't even the entire list.

    Most of these people didn't have degrees in

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