Posts tagged ‘public policy’
An article written by Rick Adrion, Barbara Ericson, Renee Fall, and me appears in this month’s Communications of the ACM about our work in the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance. Our annual meeting is today, with 11 states and Puerto Rico, where we talk about how to create sustained change in a state. We are learning a lot about what it takes to make change in our very diverse United States.
The lessons learned from Massachusetts and Georgia are useful for states joining ECEP, but so are the lessons from the other states. We have been surprised at how much our state leaders draw ideas from each other. South Carolina leaders used a teacher survey that was invented in Massachusetts. Utah draws inspiration from a Texas teacher recruitment strategy. What our state leaders find most useful about ECEP is access to other state leaders who share similar goals, for example, to broaden participation in computing by changing education pathways in their states.
White House Backs CS for All: Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science For All
I don’t usually blog on a Saturday, but this is huge.
In this week’s address, the President discussed his plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school. The President noted that our economy is rapidly shifting, and that educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity. The President referenced his Computer Science for All Initiative, which provides $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for districts in his upcoming budget; and invests more than $135 million beginning this year by the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to support and train CS teachers. The President called on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved in the efforts.
Congratulations to Jane Margolis and Andy Stefik, two computing education researchers named by the White House as Champions of Change!
Jane Margolis is a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, where she investigates why so few women and students of color have learned computer science. Based on research discussed in her books Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing and Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing, she and her collaborators, with support from the National Science Foundation, created Exploring Computer Science (ECS), a high school curriculum and teacher professional development program committed to reaching all students, especially those in underserved communities and schools. ECS now exists across the nation, including in seven of the largest school districts.
Andreas Stefik, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. For the last decade, he has been creating technologies that make it easier for people, including those with disabilities, to write computer software. With grants from the National Science Foundation, he established the first national educational infrastructure for blind or visually impaired students to learn computer science. He is the inventor of Quorum, the first evidence-oriented programming language. The design of Quorum is based on rigorous empirical data from experiments on human behavior.
My daughter said to me Wednesday morning after the President’s State of the Union Address, “Your Interwebs are going crazy today.” It’s true. The President said that he wants every student to learn CS, which is something that we’ve been talking about for decades (as in this blog post and this book I wrote).
The NPR piece that came out Wednesday (thanks to Shuchi Grover for the link) did a nice job of touching on a wide range of issues to address in meeting this goal, and talking to people like Mitchel Resnick, Alfred Thompson, and my favorite quote, from Leigh Ann DeLyser which touches on what I think is the most critical issue — where are we going to get the teachers?
“The [teacher] pipeline is the biggest issue. There isn’t a pipeline. There’s no certification for teaching computer science [in New York]. We’re taking people who trained to be teachers and giving them some CS knowledge so they can step into a classroom and help kids. This is a Band-Aid.”
The Office of Science and Technology Policy sent out a letter the next day, amplifying the President’s remarks:
Tonight was an important step forward for students across the country, as the President said in his final State of the Union address:
“We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.”
Our economy is rapidly shifting, and educators are increasingly recognizing computer science as the new basic. There are over 600,000 high-paying technology jobs open across the U.S., and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields. However, computer science (CS), is taught in less than 25 percent of American K-12 schools, even as other advanced economies, such as Britain, are making it available for all students aged 5-16. In addition, students of color, girls, and students in high-need schools are less likely to take computer science than other students, and few middle school or elementary schools offer any computer science experiences.
A year ago, President Obama became the first President to write a line of code, and issued a broad call to action to expand computer science across the nation’s classrooms. Thanks to the efforts of parents, state and local officials, educators, philanthropists and CEOs, a movement to give every child the opportunity to learn computer science is building in this country.
In the coming weeks, the Administration will announce new steps to support these state and local efforts to give students of all ages the tools to not just live in the digital age, but to be the designers and leaders of it.
We look forward to working with you on this important effort to better serve our students.
Nick Falkner has been using his blog in a series of posts to address a question that I’ve wondered about here: Why does research influence so little practice (see post here) and policy (see post here)? Nick is taking a novel approach — he’s using the three values of Ancient Greece, brought together as a trinity through Socrates and Plato: beauty, goodness and truth. He’s exploring how we can use these to define high-quality teaching. It’s an interesting series and approach which I recommend.
I used to say that it was stunning how contemporary education seems to be slow in moving in directions first suggested by Dewey a hundred years ago, then I discovered that Rousseau had said it 150 years before that. Now I find that Quntilian wrote things such as this nearly 2,000 years ago. And Marcus Aurelius, among other stoics, made much of approaches to thinking that, somehow, were put to one side as we industrialised education much as we had industrialised everything else.
This year I have accepted that we have had 2,000 years of thinking (and as much evidence when we are bold enough to experiment) and yet we just have not seen enough change. Dewey’s critique of the University is still valid. Rousseau’s lament on attaining true mastery of knowledge stands. Quintilian’s distrust of mere imitation would not be quieted when looking at much of repetitive modern examination practice.
What stops us from changing? We have more than enough evidence of discussion and thought, from some of the greatest philosophers we have seen. When we start looking at education, in varying forms, we wander across Plato, Hypatia, Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, in addition to all of those I have already mentioned. But evidence, as it stands, does not appear to be enough, especially in the face of personal perception of achievement, contribution and outcomes, whether supported by facts or not.
Source: A Year of Beauty | Nick Falkner
Thanks to Alan Fekete for this link from one of my favorite educational historians, Larry Cuban. I’ve posted here about how how education research is mostly ignored by CS teachers (see link here). Cuban is pointing out that policy makers don’t consider education research (or maybe research at all). On the other hand, mathematics and science education policy leaders have told us that the research evidence base is important in gaining consensus for standards (see link here). Maybe this is just as we might expect — the politicians don’t necessarily know the research, but they get advice from people who do.
Keep in mind that none of the above critiques of limited influence of research on policy is restricted to public schooling. Making policy in systems of criminal justice, environmental improvement–think climate change–and health improvement and clinical medicine–think of TV ads for drugs–are subject to similar political factors and personal beliefs rather than what research has found. Calls for more collaboration between university researchers and policymakers have also been heard and ignored for decades. Critics have pointed out many times that the academic culture and its rewards overlap little with the world that decision-makers face every week.
My most recent Blog@CACM post is on the K-12 CS Education Framework stakeholder’s meeting I attended last month in Chicago — see link here. The parts of the meeting where I learned the most were the first three talks, from Michael Lach, Heidi Schweingruber, and Michael Gilligan on mathematics and science education standards and what those efforts have to teach us in computer science. That’s what I wrote the Blog@CACM post on.
At the break, I congratulated Mike Lach on an excellent talk. I told him that I appreciated his message that we have to go slow. The CS education effort is the first attempt in decades to change the American Education Canon — what we teach everyone in US public schools. He agreed, and pointed out that the last time we changed the canon was in response to the Civil Rights Movement. I was confused. He explained that the Civil Rights Movement led to the creation of the African-American History Month. That’s the last time that something got added to all US elementary schools. He said that we should be glad that there’s not that kind of anger and violence fueling the push for CS education — but on the other hand, there’s also not that same kind of consensus about the importance of CS education.
Consider the two recent Google-Gallup poll reports. From one, we learn that parents think that computer science is about applications and Web search (see report here). In the second, we learn that parents (once they are told what computer science really is) want it for their kids, but administrators and principals are less enthusiastic (see report here). Commentators on the latter report have interpreted the result as suggesting that school leaders “underestimate demand” (see article here) and may be out of touch with what parents want.
There’s another way to read these two reports together. Parents don’t really know what CS is, and they don’t understand what they’re trading off when they say that want CS education. They want their kids to know CS, but at what cost? School leaders have to deal with implementation issues, and they don’t see enough demand for computing education to give it a slice of their meager budgets.
Computing education is being discussed today because of the technology industry. We would not be talking about CS in K-12 without technology industry needs. It’s the NYC tech industry who pushed for the initiative there (see their open letter). It’s the tech industry funding Code.org (see funders here). That’s not necessarily a bad thing to have the tech industry funding the effort to put computer science in schools, but it is a different thing than having a national consensus about changing public school education to include computer science. What I hear Mike Lach and others in mathematics and science education saying is that we need to build consensus if we want the implementation of CS education in schools to succeed.