On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that within 10 years, all of the city’s public schools will be required to offer computer science to all students.
According to The New York Times:
Computer science will not become a graduation requirement, and middle and high schools may choose to offer it only as an elective. But the goal is for all students, even those in elementary school and those in the poorest neighborhoods, to have some exposure to computer science.... Nationally, computer science jobs are some of the fastest growing and highest paying, but a majority of students have no access to computer science classes before college.
Mike Zamansky, until this year a teacher at Stuyvesant, NYC's premiere high-school for the gifted, which is one of the few city schools to actually make an introductory computer science course a requirement, as well as offer AP Computer Science to interested students, took to his blog to lament, "(T)he DOE has given the job of running CS education to person after person none whom had any real CS experience and few who have had any real teaching experience. I see plans based on dropping in curricula and quick fixes. I see programs run by people still wet behind the ears with respect to CS Education." (Read about Zamansky's thwarted efforts to create a designated computer programming high-school, here.)
Mayor de Blasio agreed that training as many as 5000 new teachers certified in properly instructing computer science would be the largest obstacle, but swore that it would be accomplished within the decade, and that NYC students would soon be qualified to step into the thousands of new computer-programming jobs being created every day.
Another NYC computer teacher, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of Department of Education reprisals, countered, "Even if a citywide curriculum is created today, and it's approved in three years or even a miraculous one year, instead of the usual bureaucratic five, it will still be outdated the moment it hits schools, much less in ten years. Technology simply changes too quickly. Besides, computer science and computer programming are not the same thing. If we're talking about helping disadvantaged kids find jobs out of high-school, learning to code is more useful than taking a semester of computer science. And anyway, anything you learn in school is less useful than what kids can teach themselves, messing around with their computers. What you learn in school, everybody knows. What you develop yourself is what gives you the competitive advantage."
In the meantime, kids who have taught themselves to program and are already ahead of anything a school could offer continue to have very few options in either NYC public or private schools, beyond the random AP class or robotics program. What should the city be doing to encourage these advanced kids?
Your thoughts wanted in the Comments!