High school CS teachers under fire
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.
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!