NYPost: The folly of teaching computer science to high school kids–CS teaching and the teacher shortage

March 23, 2016 at 7:27 am 12 comments

I’ve raised my concerns about where we’re going to find enough teachers for the NYC initiative (see blog post here).  I found it interesting that the New York Post is raising the a related concern.  They’re going one step further than I did.  In general, we have a national shortage of teachers.  Will growing CS teachers be stealing teachers away from math and science?

For instance, who the heck is going to teach it? There is already a shortage of qualified math and science teachers across the country. And let’s stipulate that the pool of people able to teach computer science is much smaller than those who can teach biology. And then there’s this: What kind of recent graduate with any knowledge of computer science would volunteer to teach in the New York public schools? They make oodles more money in business and get oodles more respect and opportunities for merit-based advancement in a private or parochial school.

Source: The folly of teaching computer science to high school kids | New York Post

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alfredtwo  |  March 23, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Finding teachers is my big concern as well. And I am not as convinced that it is easier to make CS teacher from other teachers as it is to make teacher from other CS people as many seem to be.

    BTW in many ways I find teaching CS more fun than being a software developer and I really liked developing code. Money is a lot but it is not everything.

  • 2. Leonard Klein  |  March 23, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Is this the reason not to teach CS? I think it is a reason to work harder to find and pay for more good teachers. I look at what is happening in K-12 ed and wonder why folks would teach, but I know partly because I am a high school STEM teacher, that we need more good teacher.

  • 3. Bonnie  |  March 23, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I had a conversation recently with a NYC CS teacher who expressed similar concerns. This teacher, who is highly qualified to teach CS (degree in CS, came to teaching from a long industry career) said that a lot of the materials being developed in many of the CS courses at other schools in the city are not very good. He agreed with you that the initiative is likely to fail or be greatly watered down due to lack of qualified teachers

    • 4. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky)  |  March 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Bonnie, your friend should be careful – the fastest way to be frozen out of the discussion is to point out NY Plan’s obvious problems and limitations.

      I’ve been talking about how NY (and other places) will be doing it wrong for a while now.

      On the other hand, you have to take anything in the NY Rags with a grain of salt.

      For the News and Post:

      Any policy or program from BdB = Bad
      Any policy or program from Bloomberg = Good.

      • 5. Bonnie  |  March 23, 2016 at 11:45 am

        your analysis of the biases of the News and Post is spot on

  • 6. gflint  |  March 24, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Just a little bit of negativity in that article. It would be nice if someone could write an editorial with viable solutions to problems, not just point out problems. Any idiot can complain. The author does point out the obvious in regards to finding teachers but that is not just an NY problem and it has been a problem for 20 years. And what is wrong with 10 year old technology? CS is not about technology, it is about being able to think. It is pretty obvious the article has nothing to do with teaching CS but is an excuse for a tirade against BdB. At least he is doing something, even if it has major issues and that is going to be implemented by people that do not have a clue.

    • 7. kirkpams  |  March 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Yeah, I had a similar reaction to the article when I read it. It’s quite clear the author has no idea what CS is, or what the goal of K-12 CS is. Take this for example: “De Blasio and his team think that computer science offerings will help prepare students for careers.” Absolutely no one thinks you can take CS in high school and walk into a job.

      As for the 10-year-old technology jab, here’s what they mean: CS graduates do not walk out of the classroom experts in JQuery, JSON, and whatever the latest JavaScript library fad is. Employers are aghast that they actually have to invest in training their new hires the specific skills they want. We actually had a grad who was a few years out of school ask why we didn’t teach all of our classes in JavaScript, because that’s what he does in his job.

      • 8. Mark Guzdial  |  March 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm

        Nobody believes that? Check out https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/30/computer-science-all

        In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by … offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.

        • 9. kirkpams  |  March 28, 2016 at 5:31 pm

          OK, I should have been clearer. No one (at least to my knowledge) from the CS side of things–those who are actually doing the work–thinks that. Politicians, on the other hand, are a different beast…

          • 10. Mark Guzdial  |  March 29, 2016 at 4:44 am

            Computer scientists and politicians are both small percentages of the overall population. The question is where most people lie.

            I’d say that most of the education leaders and policy-makers (e.g., state department of education officials) that I meet believe in the job-ready story. Think of it this way: They don’t want to believe that they are putting CS into K-12 just to generate more CS majors in undergraduate, especially when we can’t handle the current CS enrollments. They rationalize their efforts as providing students with job skills.

            This is one of the main themes in my book — *why* would we teach CS to everyone? I don’t agree with the job-ready skills either, but it’s quite common in the US rhetoric. Interestingly, it’s not a big part of other countries’ rationalizations for CS in schools.

            • 11. kirkpams  |  March 30, 2016 at 5:25 pm

              I guess I’ve just been hanging out with the “CS is foundational” crowd too much, so my perspective is skewed.

  • […] is facing a boom in primary school students, which creates additional demand for teachers.  As has been mentioned here previously, there is a shortage of teachers.  The shortage isn’t distributed across fields.  In […]


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