High school CS teachers under fire

May 14, 2010 at 8:49 am 4 comments

I met Hélène Martin at the SIGCSE Symposium this last year, hanging out with my friend Crystal Eney. lead CSE advisor at U. Washington at Seattle.  She recently wrote up a job description (in her excellent and well worth reading blog!) for what it takes to be a full-time high school CS teacher today. There is a lot there!  While a lot of people in computing education despair about the quality of high school CS teachers, there are very good ones, and the good ones do an amazing job with little support.

I wrote this job description for a full time computer science instructor in an urban public high school a while back and realized it could be useful to share.

via High School CS Teacher Job Description | Hélène Martin.

That’s why these last weeks have been so depressing for Barb Ericson and the rest of Georgia Computes! It’s Spring, so school districts are deciding what they’re going to be doing in the Fall.  Every day now, Barb is getting email or a phone call from another high school CS teacher who just found out that he or she is losing her job.  A few of them, like our colleague Ria Galanos, are finding a way to keep their jobs by teaching math or something else.  Most are just losing their jobs entirely.  Barb says that we’re losing teachers with formal CS or IT background, who have been teaching for years — but fewer years than other teachers in the school.  These are teachers who really know the content, and who have become very good teachers.

Part of what’s hurting us here are school districts that have general policies to simply lay off the newest teachers.  Avoids complications with unions, or law suits over due process or just cause.  Simply lay off the new guy.  Computer science, being a new subject in most districts, has the newest teachers.  Recesssion is a particular bad time to establish a new discipline in K-12 schools.

The districts aren’t hiring, of course.  Computer science is simply not being taught in those schools anymore.  What’s worse, we’re losing the teachers who could bring it back.  Hard to get to 10K CS teachers in 2015 when we’re decreasing teachers in 2010!

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. weilunion  |  May 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    This is terrible news and as you know is happening to art teachers and music teachers all over the country. It is a testimony of 30 years of failed economic and tax policies that favor the rich and have hollowed out or cities.

    It is also a testimony for the need to have strong unions for without them there is no counter to the tyranny of capital.

    The salaries of the administrators still go up. Just like Wall St. bonuses while working people get hurt.

    We are seeing our lives destroyed by a financial class bent on permanent war expenditures and the cutting of all public services and workers.

    This will mean more people will drift from job to job if they ar lucky and become Wal Mart associates in the new plantation economy of America

    See http://www.dailycensored.com for what is happening in eductation. Simply go to the Home page, find Author posts, click my name Danny Weil and you will see many if not most of the controversies concerning education.

    Danny Weil

  • 2. Daniel Moix  |  May 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    My school is hiring a CS teacher to replace me, so I shared the job description linked above with my school’s senior administrator. While I feel that the description accurately reflects what we do, her response to the link was “You’ll notice that our ad didn’t ask for an impossible combination of skills and abilities. I’m a firm believer in using the special talents of the teachers we hire along with giving them the latitude to develop courses of interest.

    Maybe the administration’s “misunderestimation” of just how impossible our job actually is leads them to undervalue us.

    What to do?

    This is one of the things I’ll bring up at the K12 Computing Teachers Workshop panel discussion in Atlanta this October: http://is.gd/cbXlY

  • 3. Interesting Links 17 May 2010  |  May 17, 2010 at 7:23 am

    […] IT Professionals Become Computer Science Teachers. On the down side, Mark Guzdial writes about high school CS teachers under fire It is about how budget cuts and teacher layoffs are setting high school computer science back by […]

  • 4. Kathleen Weaver  |  May 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Dallas ISD has had an opening for an AP Computer Science teacher for two years now. I know that the principal is picky but it is there.

    Nice thing, is that Dallas ISD went through lays off the first year of this opening so as long as the applicant is certified, it should be secure.

    Also, Texas does have a formal process for certifying teachers.


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