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+ - LAUSD OKs Girls-Only STEM School, Plans Boys-Only English Language Arts School

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Citing statistics that showed a whopping 46 more boys than girls passed the AP Computer Science Exam in 2011-12, the 640,000+ student Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday approved a waiver to enable the District to operate a single-gender, all-girls STEM School called the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA). Students in GALA will follow a six year sequence of computer courses starting in middle school that will culminate in AP Computer Science Principles. "Fewer females take AP courses in math, science, or computer science, and they are not as successful as males in receiving passing scores of 3, 4 or 5," argued the General Waiver Request (PDF, 700+ pages). "An all girls environment is reasonably necessary for the school to improve the self-confidence of girls in their academic abilities, especially in STEM areas where an achievement gap currently exists. GALA's admissions shall also comply with AB 1266 to ensure male students who identify as female are admitted to the school." The school's CS-related Partners include the UCLA Exploring Computer Science Program, as well as Google-bankrolled Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and NCWIT. One of the reasons the all-girls STEM school reportedly got the green light is that its backers satisfied federal regulations requiring a "substantially equal school" for excluded male students by submitting a plan for a companion all-boys school that would emphasize English Language Arts, where they often fall short of girls' test scores, rather than GALA's focus on STEM. One suspects the no-fan-of-gender-restricted-public-schools ACLU may call BS on this maneuver."

+ - US Dept. of Education Teams With Microsoft-Led Teach.org on Teacher Diversity

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Citing a new study that suggests academic achievement can benefit when children are taught by a teacher of their own race, the New York Times asks, Where Are the Teachers of Color? Towards that end, the Times reports that "Teach.org, a partnership between the Department of Education and several companies, teachers unions and other groups, is specifically targeting racial minorities for recruitment." While the NYT didn't think it fit to print, Teach.org describes itself as a "public-private partnership led by Microsoft, State Farm and the U.S. Department of Education." To the consternation of some, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft in 2011. With its 2.2% African American/Black and 3.9% Latino/Hispanic tech workforce, who better to increase diversity than Microsoft, right?"

+ - Microsoft: When My Baby Taxes Me I Go To Reno

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, Microsoft General Counsel, Code.org Director, and FWD.us Major Contributor Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through NV-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax."

+ - U.S. Education Chief, Tech Giants Exploit Innumeracy to Advance K-12 CS Agenda

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Dismayed by how easily the press was misled into spinning low AP Computer Science exam participation in certain states as evidence of gender and racial inequity, Gas Station Without Pumps patiently explained in early 2014 that it is hardly surprising from a statistical standpoint that there are no female or black students test takers in a state if there are no test takers at all. Still, that didn't stop U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Thursday from citing the lack of female AP Computer Science test takers from WY, MT, MS, ND, and AK in 2013 as evidence of how America is still failing K-12 students when it comes to civil rights and equity of access to opportunity. Duncan's remarks (video), which came on the 50th anniversary of the passage of what's now known as the No Child Left Behind Act, parroted those made just days earlier by tech-bankrolled Code.org. Fallacious as the argument may be, this and other sensational-but-innumerate factoids from the K-12-learn-to-code movement — e.g., "only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science" (how many students?), "25 states still don't allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation" (again, how many students?), "Students have participated in the Hour of Code 110,296,184 times" (what exactly does 'participated' mean?) — nonetheless resonated with lawmakers, who declared computer science a K-12 'core academic subject' in the just-rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a victory that Duncan alluded to in his speech. Both Duncan and Code.org thanked Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for the No Child Left Behind rewrite."

+ - Lies, Damn Lies, and the U.S. Secretary of Education's AP CS Statistics

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "On the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Children Left Behind), U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan oddly cited the lack of female AP Computer Science test takers in WY, MT, MS, ND, and AK in 2013 as his final example of how America is still failing K-12 students when it comes to civil rights and equity of access to opportunity. "Everyone here knows we cannot rest because we still have so far to go," said Duncan. "Why? Why do we have so much work ahead of us? Because today, a quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of African-American and Latino students do not offer Algebra II, and a third do not offer chemistry. Because today, about 40% of school districts do not offer preschool programs like the one that Star attends. Because today, we have far too many students of color, primarily boys, being suspended and expelled from school. And finally, because today, you can search five entire states and find only four girls in those states who took an AP computer science exam" (video). But as Gas Station Without Pumps explained more than a year ago, it is hardly surprising from a statistical standpoint that there are no female and black students test takers in a state if there are no test takers at all. So, where would late-to-the-CS-education-game Duncan get the idea to use such an outlandishly innumerate — some say misleading — argument? Perhaps from Code.org, the tech-bankrolled nonprofit that used the same argument to help get computer science declared a K-12 'core academic subject' (a long-time goal of Microsoft and Google) in the Senate draft of the just-rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a victory that Code.org fan Duncan alluded to in his speech. Both Duncan and Code.org thanked Senator Patty Murray (WA) — a Microsoft fave whose donors include Microsoft execs and Code.org backers Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Brad Smith — for the No Child Left Behind rewrite."

+ - Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "If at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. That's a lesson to be learned from Microsoft and Google, who in 2010 launched advocacy coalition Computing in the Core, which aimed "to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure that computer science is one of the core academic subjects that prepares students for jobs in our digital society." In 2013, Computing in the Core "merged" with Code.org, a new nonprofit led by the next door neighbor of Microsoft's General Counsel and funded by wealthy tech execs and their companies. When Code.org 'taught President Obama to code' in a widely-publicized White House event last December, visitor records indicate that Google, Microsoft, and Code.org execs had a sitdown immediately afterwards with the head of the NSF, and a Microsoft lobbyist in attendance returned to the White House the next day with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Counsel Brad Smith (who also sits on Code.org's Board) in tow. Looks like all of that hard work may finally pay off. Education Week reports that computer science has been quietly added to the list of disciplines defined as 'core academic subjects' in the Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a status that opens the doors to a number of funding opportunities. After expressing concern that his teenage daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he’d like, President Obama added, "I think they got started a little bit late. Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." So, don't be too surprised if your little ones are soon focusing on the four R's — reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and Rapunzel — in school!"

+ - With H-1B Cap Hit, Zuckerberg and Ballmer-Led Groups Press for More Tech Visas

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "With the FY2016 H-1B visa cap reached in the first week of April (only the USCIS knows how many applications were submitted by outsourcing companies and from Bentonville, AR), it's no surprise that groups like Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC and Steve Ballmer's Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund are pooh-poohing Jesse Jackson's claims that foreign high-tech workers are taking American jobs, and promoting the idea that what's really holding back Americans from jobs is a lack of foreign tech workers with H-1B visas. What is kind of strange, though, is the photo of a young black male (his American job presumably created by high-skilled immigrants) that occupies most of the first page of the three-page H-1B Employment Effect "research brief" touted by the groups, which is identical to one that graces the website of a UK memory distributor, except it's been photoshopped from color to civil-rights-era-black-and-white to produce the H-1B Poster Child version. So, do America's tech billionaires need to be reminded that it's not cool to manipulate images to fake racial diversity?"

+ - Prosecutors Get an 'A' on Convictions of Atlanta Ed-Reform-Gone-Bad Test Cheats

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Just weeks after an L.A. Times op-ed called on public schools to emulate high-tech companies by paying high salaries to driven, talented employees whose productivity more than compensates for their high pay, the New York Times reported on the dramatic conclusion to perhaps the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history, which saw a Judge order handcuffed Atlanta educators led off to jail immediately for their roles in a standardized test cheating scandal that raised broader questions about the role of high-stakes testing in American schools. Jurors convicted 11 of the 12 defendants — a mix of Atlanta public school teachers, testing coordinators and administrators — of racketeering, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sowed suspicion about the veracity of the test scores in 2009, and while investigators found that cheating was particularly ingrained in individual schools, they also said that the district’s top officials, including Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, bore some responsibility for creating "a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation" that had permitted "cheating — at all levels — to go unchecked for years." Officials said the cheating allowed employees to collect bonuses and helped improve the reputations of both Dr. Hall and the perpetually troubled school district. Dr. Hall, who died on March 2, insisted that she had done nothing wrong and that her approach to education, which emphasized data, was not to blame. But a Fulton County grand jury later accused her and 34 other district employees of being complicit in the cheating. Twenty-one reached plea agreements, and two defendants died before they could stand trial. Interestingly, in early 2010, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on how Hall and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were bringing a "fair and transparent evaluation and support mechanism" to the Atlanta Public Schools. "We are excited to continue our [$23.6 million] partnership with APS and Dr. Hall," said Gates Foundation director of education Vicki L. Phillips. Five years earlier, in a 2005 Gates Foundation press release, Hall said, "We look forward to partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to take our reform efforts to the next level.""

+ - Stanford Turns to Pair Programming: 1 CS Education for the Price of 2?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Stanford students may pay $44,184 in tuition, but that may not even entitle them to individually graded homework. The Stanford Daily reports that this quarter, Stanford's Computer Science Department will implement 'pair programming' in the introductory computer science courses CS 106A: Programming Methodology and CS 106B: Programming Abstractions. "The purpose of this change," reports the paper, "is to reduce the increasingly demanding workload for section leaders due to high enrollment and also help students to develop important collaboration skills." The CS 106A Pair Programming Q&A page further explains, "Our enrollments have grown rapidly, and we are trying to explore creative new ways to manage student work that will also reduce the heavy workload on our section leaders," adding that students who don't get with the Pair Programming program and elect to go solo will not be awarded "late days" that can be used to avoid penalties on overdue assignments, unlike their paired classmates. Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aimed "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses," which included a suggestion that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses. Coincidentally, Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appeared on the CS Capacity RFP, was Director of Undergraduate Studies in Stanford's CS Department before joining Google."

+ - Tech Billionaires Want Jesse Jackson to 'Get The Facts Straight' on H-1B Visas

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""Let's get the facts straight [on H-1B workers]," commands the Mythbusters-themed popup at FWD.us, which seems designed to refute Jesse Jackson's earlier claims that foreign high-tech workers are taking American jobs. What's really holding back Americans from jobs is the lack of foreign tech workers with H-1B visas, according to a new research brief entitled The H-1B Employment Effect , which is being promoted by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC and Steve Ballmer's Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund. One wonders what Jackson will make of the report, which uses a photo of what appears to be a young black male that occupies most of the first page of the research report to drive home its point. Curiously, a Google image search reveals that the photo of what one might assume is a U.S.-born worker who owes his job to an H-1B worker is identical to one gracing the website of a UK memory distributor, except it's been changed from color to black-and-white, giving it a civil rights movement-era vibe. Hey, one Photoshopped picture is worth a thousand words when you're trying to make a point, right?"

+ - Zuckerberg, Ballmer-Led Groups: Jesse Jackson Wrong About Foreign Tech Workers

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Contrary to what Jesse Jackson says, what's really holding back black and other Americans from jobs is the lack of foreign tech workers with H-1B visas, according to a new research brief entitled The H-1B Employment Effect , which is being jointly promoted by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC and Steve Ballmer's Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund. Released on April 1st to coincide with the first day of FY2016 H-1B petition filings, the report claims that "every 1 additional H-1B visa awarded to a state was associated with the creation of 1.83 more jobs for U.S.-born workers," while noting that other studies pegged the H-1B job multiplier anywhere from 1 to 5. Curiously, a Google image search of the photo of a young black male that dominates the report — presumably a U.S.-born worker who owes his job to a high-tech immigrant — indicates the image of the U.S. worker is identical to one gracing the website of a UK memory distributor, except it's been Photoshopped from color to black-and-white, giving it a civil rights movement-era vibe. April Fools' Day joke, Mark and Steve?"

+ - Microsoft Bringing 'The Coding Man' to Broadway, Bill Gates to Star

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Drawing inspiration from the play The Music Man , in which "Professor" Harold Hill convinces naive parents he can teach their musically disinclined children to play instruments, Microsoft on Wednesday announced it is adapting Code.org's What Most Schools Don't Teach video into a Broadway musical starring Bill Gates called The Coding Man , in which wealthy tech leaders convince naive parents — including the President of the United States — they can teach their Computer Science-disinclined children to code. In the play, Microsoft advances its U.S. Talent Strategy by bankrolling a learn-to-code nonprofit and partnering with the National Science Foundation, White House officials, and excited CS educators to make the lack of CS education 'an issue like climate change'. The play concludes with a big production number in which the President and schoolkids are 'taught to code' by Disney Princesses. The early buzz is there's a Tony Award in BillG's future!"

+ - No Film at 11: The Case for the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In Why My MOOC is Not Built on Video, GWU's Lorena Barba explains why the Practical Numerical Methods with Python course she and colleagues put together has but one video: "Why didn’t we have more video? The short answer is budget and time: making good-quality videos is expensive & making simple yet effective educational videos is time consuming, if not necessarily costly. #NumericalMOOC was created on-the-fly, with little budget. But here’s my point: expensive, high-production-value videos are not necessary to achieve a quality learning experience." When the cost of producing a MOOC can exceed $100,000 per course, Barba suggests educators pay heed to Donald Bligh's 1971 observation that "dazzling presentations do not necessarily result in learning." So what would Barba do? "We designed the central learning experience [of #NumericalMOOC] around a set of IPython Notebooks," she explains, "and meaningful yet achievable mini-projects for students. I guarantee learning results to any student that fully engages with these!""

+ - 'The Coding Man', a Microsoft and Google Production?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In The Music Man, "Professor" Harold Hill convinces naive parents he can teach their musically disinclined children to play musical instruments. In 'The Coding Man', wealthy tech leaders convince naive parents — including the President of the United States — they can teach their Computer Science-disinclined children to code. So, who deserves credit for the latter production? It's hard to say, but White House visitor records released Friday show Microsoft and Google execs were slated to attend cozy meetings at the White House with the National Science Foundation and Obama administration officials in the hours after tech industry-bankrolled Code.org 'taught the President to code' last December, perhaps the crowning event in the nonprofit's two-year effort to make the lack of CS education 'an issue like climate change'. According to White House records, NSF Chief France Córdova was scheduled to meet on Dec. 8th with Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, Microsoft Chief Lobbyist Frederick Humphries, and Google Director of Education Maggie Johnson. And on Dec. 9th, Humphries was due back at the White House with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in tow. Smith, who sits on Code.org's Board (as does Google's Maggie Johnson), is coincidentally the next door neighbor of Code.org CEO Partovi, who the NY Times notes is a sometimes jogging partner of Code.org backer Steve Ballmer. So, is 'The Coding Man' largely a Microsoft and Google production?"

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