theodp writes: "Takia — Ms. Toomer — and I are here to share a way for any public school teacher in America to use crowdfunding to learn computer science and how to teach it. The vehicle is DonorsChoose.org." So begins DonorsChoose CEO Charles Best (YouTube) in a segment entitled New Funding Models at the recent White House Summit on Computer Science for All. "Over these last 16 years, those [DonorsChoose crowdfunding] projects have strictly been for materials and experiences that students consumed. That changed this year when we partnered with Infosys Foundation USA to — for the very first time — start letting teachers create professional development projects on our site [...] We launched this expansion of our model precisely so that teachers could now use our site to get funding to learn computer science and to become computer science teachers." Following a testimonial from 6th grade teacher Takia Toomer, who has used DonorsChoose to fund a number of other projects, Best added: "What's vital I think for you to appreciate is that Ms. Toomer — she may have had actually a very cooperative school district leader — but thanks to this partnership any public school teacher, no matter whether their superintendent has launched a computer science program or whether their principal is asking them to do it, any teacher of their own initiative, out of their own entrepreneurial spirit, can get crowdfunding and learn computer science and how to teach it. Infosys Foundation USA has a match for anyone giving to one of these projects, but we're looking for partners, companies, foundations who will support geographic-specific match offers for teachers who are looking to learn computer science no matter the barriers in their way. Thank you." In the past, Google and Google-backed Code.org have used DonorsChoose as a vehicle to incentivize teachers to advance their K-12 CS agenda; Google has also suggested that school and district administrators are to blame for the lack of K-12 CS.
theodp writes: "Every fall," writes The Intercept's Sam Biddle, "internet and its resident tech mumblers congregate for The Apple Event, a quasi-pagan streaming-video rite in which Tim Cook boasts of just how much money his company is making (a lot) and just how much good it’s introducing to the world (this typically involves a new iPhone). This is merely annoying most years; but in 2016, when Apple is loudly, publicly denying its tax obligations around the world, it’s just gross." Biddle finds Apple’s use of the word 'courage' to describe the corporate ethos that pushed the company to remove the headphone plug from the newest iPhone while offering a new pair of $160 jack-free earbuds particularly irksome: "Removing a headphone jack or adding 20 headphone jacks does not require courage; engineers are very smart, but their job does not typically require much bravery. Courage is more often found in, say, running into a burning school to rescue the students and class rodent. Or, maybe, you could call courageous the act of paying the many billions you owe around the world into the system that ensures those students have all of the resources they need in order to learn and grow. Just a hint: Collaborative spreadsheet software doesn’t count [introducing new real-time collaboration features, Cook called iWork a "very important tool in education"]."
theodp writes: Last summer, PBS announced that it would air a Microsoft-funded 'reality' show — Code Trip (YouTube trailer) — in which Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark send students across the U.S. for a 'transformative journey into computer science.' Well, PBS has made good on its promise, and the Microsoft On The Issues blog is calling it must-see-TV. You can judge for yourself over at Roadtrip Nation, where you can screen Episode 1: Pumped and Ready and Behind the Scenes with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, videos which are "Fueled by Microsoft Philanthropies." A $199,866.00 National Science Foundation grant for a pilot project led by Roadtrip Nation "to design and develop pilot materials for a Computer Science Roadtrip" suggests some of the material may also be headed into classrooms. A White House Fact Sheet issued last January for President Obama's $4.2 billion CS for All Initiative called out Roadtrip Nation as one of the partners that would be helping "to directly prepare and support no fewer than 10,000 teachers to teach CS by 2021."
theodp writes: Over at The Gates Notes, Duke CS grad and former Microsoft employee Melinda Gates laments the lack of women in CS in Computers Are For Girls, Too. "Somewhere along the way, society decided that computers are for boys," Gates writes. "Or, as Aishwarya says, 'guys in hoodies.' And this toxic stereotype becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, virtually guaranteeing that computer science is indeed a male-dominated field."
theodp writes: Workforce Needs, Parent Advocacy Spark Computer Science Initiative, reads the headline of a story on Mississippi's decision to pilot a new K-12 CS curriculum — Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) — this fall. Read on though, and it turns out 'Parent Advocacy' refers to "a 2015 Gallup poll [that] showed 90% of parents want CS courses taught in school." No citation is given, but this factoid would appear to be sourced from a Google report of Google-Gallup poll data from 1,685 parents of 7th to 12th-graders from across the U.S., most of whom Google lamented don't even understand the difference between general computer use and computer science. Still, the Google-Gallup poll results appears to be good enough for government work. Justifying the need for $4.2B to fund his Computer Science For All initiative, President Obama said in January, "Nine out of ten parents want it [computer science] taught at their children's schools." In other K-12 CS education news, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced it has been awarded a grant from Google that will be used to implement a "Grassroots Advocacy System" for K-12 CS (no $ amount was disclosed). “Google continues to be one of the leading supporters of CSTA and K-12 Computer Science education," said CSTA Executive Director Mark Nelson.
theodp writes: Never underestimate the power of marketing in creating a national K-12 CS crisis, suggested the National Science Foundation as it gave props to tech-backed Code.org for "its amazing marketing prowess, its Hour of Code, and its success in attracting major funding, [which] has completely changed the national conversation [on K-12 CS]." Which may explain the motivation behind the Arkansas Dept. of Education's #ARKidsCanCode Computer Science Enrollment Contest. "Arkansas will honor schools for their outstanding effort to promote computer science education this coming school year," begins the announcement for the contest, which calls for schools to compete for a to-be-determined "technology prize package" by earning points for, among other things, playing the Governor’s #ARKidsCanCode video (a video called Join the Movement. Learn to Code. is featured on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's YouTube channel) during a school wide opening assembly or over a school wide video system or hosting a Code.org Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week. "An [sic] subsequent commissioner’s memo will be posted in late November with information on the specific drawing date/location, technology prize package, and how properly to submit documentation to the Arkansas Department of Education," adds the memo. The White House praised the leadership of Arkansas as it announced President Obama's proposed $4.2B CS for All initiative in January. Arkansas, which declared a high school CS education state of emergency in early 2015, was awarded a $1 million NSF grant last August to train Arkansas HS computing teachers. Hutchinson teamed up with other governors earlier this year to launch GovsForCS, a partnership that works with Code.org to increase access to K-12 CS classes.