theodp writes: Based on a sample of interviews with 1,672 students in grades 7-12, Google says its research with Gallup shows that "Black and Hispanic students are more likely than their white counterparts to be interested in learning CS". In fact, Google says it found "Black students are 1.5 times and Hispanic students are 1.7 times as likely as white students to be interested in learning CS." In response, Google has joined Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and others to call for more K-12 CS cowbell. A just-released K–12 Computer Science Framework (pdf, 339 pgs.), which cites some of the same Google & Gallup reports President Obama drew factoids from ("Nine out of ten parents want it [CS] taught at their children’s schools") to justify his $4.2B CS For All budget request, even calls for "pair programming" lessons for the pre-Kindergartner set. "At the pre-K level," reads a chapter on Computer Science in Early Childhood Education, teachers can help facilitate pair programming among two children with the same "My turn"/"Your turn" flashcards to designate driver/navigator roles as well as encourage children to engage in collaboration and communication skills to foster peer-to-peer scaffolding. Educators can provide more support and scaffolding by engaging in child/teacher pair programming."
theodp writes: "For many years I have been part of discussions about how to diversify computing," writes CS Prof Valerie Barr over at the ACM, "particularly about how we recruit and retain a more diverse cohort of CS students. I wholeheartedly support this goal, and spend a considerable amount of my effort as chair of ACM-W helping to drive programs that focus on one aspect of this diversification, namely encouraging women students to stay in computing. Of late I have become very concerned about how some elements of the diversity argument are being expressed and then implemented in teaching practices. A shorthand has developed that often comes out as two problematic claims: Problem 1. Women are motivated by social relevance, so when we teach them we have to discuss ways in which computing can contribute to the social good. Problem 2. Students from underrepresented minorities (URM) respond to culturally relevant examples, so when we teach them we have to incorporate these examples into course content. [...] As we continue efforts to diversify computing, we cannot afford to paint any group in a monochromatic way. We have to embrace the richness of today's student population by making what we teach meaningful and relevant to them. There are women who want to geek out about hard-core tech, and there are men who care deeply about computing for the social good. There are students of all genders and ethnic and racial backgrounds who will be happy with an old-fashioned lecture, and those who will thrive on active learning with examples drawn from a range of cultures and application areas. [...] We have to teach everybody differently. If we pretend that all women students are the same, and all URM students are the same, and all Asian and white male students are the same, then we will never adequately address the blind spots and weaknesses in instruction and curriculum development that have led to our current situation."
theodp writes: "Computer Science is about jobs and equity in every state in America, and it wins elections," begins Code.org co-founder Ali Partovi in a leaked May 2015 email to Hillary for America CTO Stephanie Hannon and others (including LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman), according to WikiLeaks. "Whichever candidate embraces it first will be seen as a visionary leader when it comes to about jobs, economic growth, and America's future [...] Computer Science is real and resonates with voters (far more than 'STEM'). Computer Science helped win the recent election in Arkansas for Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)." Brother Hadi Partovi, CEO of tech-backed Code.org, adds: "One thing to consider, *Any* time Hillary says 'STEM', if she instead said 'Computer science' she'd have more voters understand and support her [...] for winning an election, 'STEM' is not what voters react to. " The Clinton camp seemed keen on the idea. "The founders of code.org are eager to see Hillary make statements in support of computer science education and to have us participate in the hour of code," wrote Hannon in an email to Clinton Chief Digital Strategist Teddy Goff. "I would definitely be for participating in the hour of code as POTUS did last year," replied Goff. Three months later, Hour of Code computer science tutorials were offered at a Clinton Presidential Center event celebrating back-to-school and the ex-President's birthday, which was sponsored by the Clinton Foundation in partnership with the Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson. During last December's national Hour of Code, which is run by Code.org, @HillaryClinton tweeted her support. Last July, Hadi Partovi noted that U.S. politicians are bringing K-12 computer science to the campaign trail, citing Clinton's recently released tech agenda, which vowed to "provide every student in America an opportunity to learn computer science" and "engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade."
theodp writes: If new emails released by WikiLeaks are to be believed, Code.org co-founders Hadi and Ali Partovi advised Hillary Clinton to embrace computer science if she wants to be the next President. "Computer Science is about jobs and equity in every state in America, and it wins elections," begins Ali Partovi in a May 2015 email to Hillary for America CTO Stephanie Hannon and others. "Whichever candidate embraces it first will be seen as a visionary leader when it comes to about jobs, economic growth, and America's future." Hadi Partovi, CEO of tech-backed Code.org, adds: "One thing to consider, *Any* time Hillary says 'STEM', if she instead said 'Computer science' she'd have more voters understand and support her. Of course, STEM is *critically important* to our country. However, STEM is not where the job growth is or where the gender disparity is. STEM is also not where the H1B skilled immigration problem is." He concludes, "I'd love to work with the Clinton campaign to help sharpen a focus on this issue. Even if it's just participation in a marketing gimmick around the Hour of Code." In June, Clinton unveiled her tech plan, which promises to "engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade."
theodp writes: Among the latest WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta emails was an interesting exchange between the Clinton campaign and Code.org co-founders Hadi and Ali Partovi, which discussed how Hillary could use the issue of computer science education to win the election. "Computer Science is about jobs and equity in every state in America, and it wins elections," began Ali Partovi in a May 2015 email to Hillary for America CTO Stephanie Hannon and others (LinkedIn co-founder and Code.org 'Gold Supporter' Reid Hoffman was cc'd). "Computer Science is real and resonates with voters (far more than 'STEM'). Computer Science helped win the recent election in Arkansas for Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). Whichever candidate embraces it first will be seen as a visionary leader when it comes to about jobs, economic growth, and America's future." Ali's brother Hadi suggested Hillary follow President Obama's lead and partner with tech-backed Code.org: "One easy way for Hillary to engage is to work with us around the Hour of Code campaign. Last year President Obama hosted an Hour of Code at the White House. This year we have some really big plans involved, with a special focus on women in computer science, which would be a perfect fit for Hillary's involvement." The Code.org CEO added, "One thing to consider, *Any* time Hillary says 'STEM', if she instead said 'Computer science' she'd have more voters understand and support her. Of course, STEM is *critically important* to our country. However, STEM is not where the job growth is or where the gender disparity is. STEM is also not where the H1B skilled immigration problem is" Partovi concluded, "I'd love to work with the Clinton campaign to help sharpen a focus on this issue. Even if it's just participation in a marketing gimmick around the Hour of Code." In a LinkedIn post last July, Hadi Partovi cited Hillary's recently-released tech agenda ("the very first bullet begins with 'Invest in computer science,' followed by 'provide every student in America an opportunity to learn computer science'") as he noted that candidates for office — even in the race for President — are now campaigning behind computer science. In a P.S., Partovi added, "This is a personal note by me, and is not meant as an endorsement of any candidate for office."
theodp writes: GodComplX, a 10-episode original Google web series about 20-something tech geniuses living in Silicon Beach starring YouTube star Shameless Maya, will make its premiere on Nov 1st. "Bias is real!," exclaims a tweet from @godcomplxseries to Tim Kaine which informs the VP candidate that the upcoming Google web series "addresses the bias in tech by showing minorities in tech roles on-screen." In addition to giving a character breakdown, a rush casting call issued for the web series in June explained: "GodComplX is a narrative web series produced in collaboration with Google's Computer Science in Media Program — an educational initiative at Google with the mission of increasing the representation of women and minority characters that work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers. In producing this series, we look to further Google's initiative by not only casting female and diverse actors in STEM roles, but by also hiring female and diverse crew throughout the production." Last summer, Fortune and others reported Google's own efforts to create a more diverse U.S. workforce have shown scant progress, even by their own cherry-picked numbers. Despite a public commitment to Jesse Jackson to release their EEO-1 hiring data to the public, Google Diversity still links to an old filing from 2014 instead of to the newer 2015 or 2016 EEOC compliance surveys mandated by federal statute.
theodp writes: In Tuesday night's Halt and Catch Fire episode entitled "You Are Not Safe" (review, spoiler alert!), naive-but-visionary programmer Ryan Ray faces an Aaron Swartz-like predicament after making an idealistic choice that runs him afoul of the just-passed CFAA, which could mean 1-2 years in prison followed by a five-year ban from computers, which is pretty much all that he lives for. So, how devastating would it be for you if you faced being barred from touching computers for 7 years?
theodp writes: EdSource reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday aligned the state with President Obama’s $4B Computer Science for All initiative, signing into law a bill that begins a planning process to expand computer science education for all grades in California’s public schools. "It is the intent of the Legislature that all pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, have access to computer science education," reads Assembly Bill No. 2329, "with a strong focus on pupils underrepresented in computer science, including girls, low-income and underserved school districts, and rural and urban school districts." And over at Congress, CA Representative Barbara Lee has also introduced H.R.6095 — Computer Science for All Act of 2016, which requires recipients of $250 million in grant funds to create "plans for expanding overall access to rigorous STEAM classes, utilizing computer science as a catalyst for increased interest in STEAM more broadly, and reducing course equity gaps for all students, including underrepresented groups such as minorities, girls, and youth from low-income families [...] Women overall face challenges in accessing computer science education." In an accompanying op-ed on the legislation, Lee argued that "Congress needs to put our money where our mouth is on STEM", adding that, "We can and must to do better, especially for girls and students of color." The legislation is consistent with the nation's new Every Student Succeeds Act, which put K-12 CS on equal footing with academic subjects such as math and English. Signed into law during last December's Computer Science Education Week, ESSA calls for "increasing access for students through grade 12 who are members of groups underrepresented in such subject fields, such as female students, minority students, English learners, children with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students." So, with only 57,937 students out of the nation's 16 million high schoolers taking an AP CS exam in 2016, should lawmakers be pressed to spell out exactly what student groups they don't consider underrepresented in CS?
theodp writes: In Melinda Gates Has a New Mission: Women in Tech, Backchannel's Jessi Hempel reports that MelindaG is returning to her roots to tackle gender inequality in computer science. "I care about computer science," says Gates. "When I was in school in the 1980s, women got about 37 percent of computer science degrees and law degrees then. Law went up to 47 percent now. In medicine, we were at 28 percent in 1984. That’s gone up to 48 percent. Computer science went from 37 percent to 18 percent." Somewhat ironically, Gates abandoned her own CS career and now runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the world's richest man, thanks to wealth derived from now-16.9% female techie Microsoft. So what does Gates think gave rise to CS gender inequality? "We know when in history [women became less interested in computer science]," Gates told Backchannel. "When I was growing up, all the games-the palm games, the Atari games, the computer games-they were all gender neutral, right? Then we went through this gamification that became very male. We don’t know for sure, but it looks like the correlation is that when the gaming industry became very male, all of a sudden you had women in computer science [drop off]." While she didn't mention it, another thing that changed since the time Melinda French was a young girl is that personal computers no longer ship with a beginner's programming language pre-installed — Gates told Fortune it was an Apple II she inherited off her dad as a teenager that got her interested in computer science (interestingly, Gates later told the NY Times she refused to allow her own daughters to use Apple products despite their pleas). So, while it's convenient to blame gender-specific games (YouTube, Steve Jobs at Macworld 1998) and paint "guys in hoodies" as the villain, there are likely other important factors that help explain why Gates' daughters "are half as likely to major in computer science as I was 30 years ago."
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.