Lion of the Blogosphere

Computer science in school: correcting the NY Times

The NY Times article says “In New York City, some of the most elite public schools, like Stuyvesant High School, have offered computer science courses for years.”

I graduated in 1985 and I took Computer Science and took the AP exam. So Stuyvesant has offered computer science for decades and not merely years. Wow, I’m old.

It’s pretty shameful, actually, that computer science still isn’t available in the vast majority of New York City public high schools. This demonstrates the benefit of private school. So I actually agree with De Blasio that expanding computer science education is a good idea.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 16, 2015 at 8:10 am

41 Responses

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  1. Won’t make a difference. I took AP Computer science in high school and made a 4. Haven’t done much with it since.

    My brother didn’t take it, and is now employed in a career where he programs daily.

    Lion of the Judah-sphere

    September 16, 2015 at 8:33 am

  2. Stupid people will fail to learn it no matter what, and the smart people will teach themselves regardless whether it exists in schools or not.

    Lion of the Judah-sphere

    September 16, 2015 at 8:34 am

    • True, but formal education is for the majority of students and they need formal education.

      Also, what’s the computer science curriculum? APEX, for example, has a very good curriculum, but it just never gets taught because of inadequate students and teachers. I doubt NYC public schools will be able to successfully teach it.

      Yakov

      September 16, 2015 at 10:21 am

      • I can imagine what it’ll look like due to inadequate teachers and curriculum and dumb or uninterested students. I took a computer science course in high school. Midway through the course I told the class to create a program to print the numbers between 1 and 10. Several students did the following:

        print 1
        print 2
        print 3
        ….

        jasonbayz

        September 16, 2015 at 11:33 am

      • “…formal education is for the majority of students and they need formal education.”

        And they don’t need something that the vast majority won’t be able for, and which will just attract undesirables to the schools.

        They need a tight labor market most of all – for instance, not having some Russian come over and take a cushy trade job that one of them could have used to support a family.

        Jesse

        September 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      • @Jesse

        There are jobs available in all trades. Stop winning.

        Yakov

        September 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

      • @Yakov:

        “There are jobs available in all trades. Stop winning.”

        (1) No, no there are not. There are a limited amount of jobs, and a huge number of foreigners coming in and agreeing to work for wages no American would agree to. It’s a violation of the free market.

        And, as in your case, they are cheating on their taxes, feel no loyalty or even respect for the wider society or its citizens, and feel REALLY REALLY AMAZING about themselves for being such efficient little parasites.

        (2) lol. Nice spelling, Tardar Sauce.

        Jesse

        September 17, 2015 at 10:31 am

      • @Jesse

        Few people pay taxes on cash transactions in any society. Avoiding taxes is not synonymous with unpatriotic behaviour. My fellow mechanic from Russia who runs a cash business has a son in the Marines. And this is not an isolated case. You don’t understand immigrant or NYC dynamics. You indignation is misplaced. Read what Trump has to say about hedge fund mangers not paying taxes.

        Yakov

        September 17, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      • @ Yakov:

        “Few people pay taxes on cash transactions in any society.”

        Well, no. That’s the whole point of paying in cash, and it makes you a leech.

        “Avoiding taxes is not synonymous with unpatriotic behaviour.”

        You think taxes are too high, try to get them lowered. You don’t like paying for colored people’s benefits, say so. You’re no better than the people who think the taxis are over regulated and, rather than try to loosen them, simply exempt a minority from the rules, ie, Uber. Or the people who hate the regulations on public schools but, rather than try to have them lessened (which would be haaaaaard and most people would disagree with them) instead start pushing for charters.

        “My fellow mechanic from Russia who runs a cash business has a son in the Marines. And this is not an isolated case.”

        So he steals an American job, cheats on his taxes and then offers up one of his children as a mercenary. (If he has the same attitude towards America and Americans as you do, then that’s all the son is. He shouldn’t flatter himself by pretending to be American.) All so the American elites can wage wars that real Americans don’t want to fight in. Whoop-de-doo. Don’t try the “lookee milleetay-ree!” shit with me. Doesn’t fly.

        “You don’t understand immigrant or NYC dynamics.”

        I understand that Russia is full of Russian genetics and culture, and is a colossal shit-hole. All you are doing is bringing the same dynamics (cultural and genetic) that turned your country into, well, THAT and undermining the homogeneous, high trust society that would be far better off without you. Are you as bad as, say, the Haitians or any Muslim scum (but I repeat myself)? No. But that’s not saying much, and you’re still one more point breaking the American nation. Being white doesn’t change that.

        “You indignation is misplaced. Read what Trump has to say about hedge fund mangers not paying taxes.”

        I know what he has to say. But please, don’t flatter yourself by taking his points and deciding that you’re free and clear. The only difference between you and the hedge fund managers is that they’re smart enough to take it several levels higher than you would ever be capable of. If you were smarter, you’d do it too. And how do I know this? Because someone who cannot be trusted to operate honestly on a medium level would cheerfully be dishonest if he was capable of operating on a high level.

        Believe it or not, it’s possible to get angry at more than one target.

        Jesse

        September 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      • @Jesse

        ‘So he steals an American job, cheats on his taxes and then offers up one of his children as a mercenary.’

        Now you are being totally irrational. He doesn’t offer anybody as a mercenary. His son is an adult who makes his own decisions. What you are saying is bizzare.

        After the fall of communism, a star of Russian shanson Michael Shafutinsky returned to Russia, but his son stayed and went to West Point. He is a career officer in the Marines. Is he stealing a good paying job from an American that could’ve fed his family, but now can’t?

        Also, my freind is an ethnic Russian, but I’m not. You were addressing the wrong ethnic group. You may want to rephrase your objection now.

        Yakov

        September 17, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      • @Jesse
        ‘Believe it or not, it’s possible to get angry at more than one target.’

        Absolutely, but don’t forget to look in the mirror.

        Yakov

        September 17, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      • “Now you are being totally irrational. He doesn’t offer anybody as a mercenary. His son is an adult who makes his own decisions. What you are saying is bizzare.

        “After the fall of communism, a star of Russian shanson Michael Shafutinsky returned to Russia, but his son stayed and went to West Point. He is a career officer in the Marines. Is he stealing a good paying job from an American that could’ve fed his family, but now can’t?”

        The problem with offering up examples of Marines as how immigrants contribute is that it artificially props up the military in ways that wouldn’t be feasible if they had to stick to real Americans. Yes, that job should’ve gone to an American. And, if they genuinely couldn’t find Americans to do it, then they would’ve had to scale back on military adventures. Funnily enough, I’m okay with that.

        “@Jesse
        ‘Believe it or not, it’s possible to get angry at more than one target.’

        “Absolutely, but don’t forget to look in the mirror.”

        That…was kind of my point. You still cheat on your taxes and feel contempt for Americans. You’re still, objectively, a drain on American society.

        Jesse

        September 18, 2015 at 3:36 am

      • @Jesse

        Everywhere in the world it’s understood that volunteering to serve in your countries combat units is the highest expression of patriotism and identification with the country. Such people are universal respected by their fellow compatriots. Your failure to understand this most elementary of truths is an indication of serious problems. I don’t want this to deteriorate into Trump/Fiorina style argument of who is the worse CEO. I engage in substantive discussion and avoid ad homeniem attacks.

        The Founding Fathers refused to pay taxes, but won the greatest Revolution and produced the greatest constitution that the world has ever known. Analyse this!

        Yakov

        September 18, 2015 at 11:13 am

    • Exactly, the most important contribution public schools made was they forced parents in the farming age to give their children enough time off from work to educate themselves with some marginal assistance from an adult called a teacher. Of course, once the platform was there the overlords quickly saw its utility for social control and the rest is history . . .

      Curle

      September 16, 2015 at 10:27 am

  3. Most people can’t do it. And why exactly should the public school system provide training that the businesses should be giving their own workers, when it comes to the smartest ones? It’s a massive subsidy.

    Jesse

    September 16, 2015 at 9:50 am

    • It’s not for the sake of the businesses, it’s for the sake of the students, so they’ll actually have some sort of marketable skill when they graduate with an otherwise fairly useless high school diploma.

      Mike Street Station

      September 16, 2015 at 10:08 am

      • But it will be of no use to the 95% (and often more) of people who just can’t do it. It’s one more signalling device; it just shifts the signalling to high school level. Which means, in the public education system, that this is entirely on the taxpayer. Anyone smart enough to learn computer science in high school is smart enough to be taught it by an employer – assuming the employers are not such leeches that they’ll refuse to teach their employees and then whine they need (subsidized) cheap labor from abroad.

        Jesse

        September 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

      • Again, what’s meant by computer science? What’s the curriculum? Lion, what were you taught in HS?

        Yakov

        September 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

      • Pascal programming and basic structures like linked lists. It was a LONG time ago.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 16, 2015 at 11:57 am

      • “Pascal programming and basic structures like linked lists.”

        Most people, especially children and teenagers, can’t do that. They’re just not able to; they still deserve your loyalty as your fellow citizens (assuming that’s what they actually are – frakking amnesty…) But this is one of those proposals that seems happily unencumbered by anything so mundane as the realities of the bell curve.

        Jesse

        September 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      • @Lion

        This is excellent, but only a small minority can do it. We actually had a trading system written in Pascal, very unusual.

        Yakov

        September 17, 2015 at 9:51 am

    • The debate of training versus education continues in our society. Almost everyone can benefit from training but few can absorb a general education. Stimulus response is not education but training. The teaching debate continues on using computers versus making computers do what you want..

      cesqy

      September 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

  4. 70% of the students at the NYC’s public schools are NAM (most of whom are underachievers and would need remedial education, if they were competing with non-NAMs). The remaining 30% is divided between Whites, Asians and others.

    Computer Science courses would be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars, as with anything “public” in NYC. I previously said, NYC’s public institutions are managed by a 3rd World Style bureaucracy.

    JS

    September 16, 2015 at 10:50 am

  5. Reading between the lines they seem to be saying education majors are too dumb to teach programming. Is it true your average programmer could earn more in the private sector? I thought NYC teachers make 100k+ after 10(?) years plus very good benefits, pensions, and summers off.

    One of the goals of the 1990s Kansas City desegregation experiment was to introduce programming instruction to classrooms- they even created a computer science magnet school. However not only did desegregation not transpire but in the few schools that did attract white students, the achievement gap persisted, and was the widest (5 year difference between white and black males) at the computer science magnet.

    slithy toves

    September 16, 2015 at 10:52 am

    • There are a lot of people too old to still work as software engineers who would probably rather teach than have a crappy QA analyst job.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

    • “Reading between the lines they seem to be saying education majors are too dumb to teach programming.”

      There’s no demonstrated connection between teacher smarts and student achievement. (Rather uncomfortably, the only real and lasting correlation that can be seen is when you match the race of the teachers and the students.)

      The facts can be boiled down to these two, maybe two and a half, points:

      (1) The vast majority of people in general, and children/teenagers in general, just cannot do computer science. That’s not a flaw on their part, and it’s certainly not anyone’s “fault”. That percentage rises even more when you look at the demographics of NYC’s public schools.

      (2)(i) Introducing computer science into public schools would benefit no one. The demographics of the class would get them sued by the DOE. No matter what the educational “leaders” think of it, most on-the-ground, professional teachers and the people who have to keep the schools running (rather than bloviate) are pissed off beyond words at such disparate impact lawsuits.

      They’re already getting sued because black boys get punished so much, when they know full well that these boys deserve it, seeing as they’re the ones giving the punishments in the first place. Why invite such aggravation into an already impossible (because of stupidly high expectations) job?

      (ii) No one wants to introduce computer science because it would attract Oriental students – and their families. No one likes them. No one wants them around. I am all in favor of races protecting their interests and if some black and Hispanic administrators in Harlem don’t want Orientals coming in and, well, being Oriental (always at the colored folks expense), then they deserve as much support as the white suburban schools finessing their programs to protect the white kids’ interests.

      Jesse

      September 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      • “There’s no demonstrated connection between teacher smarts and student achievement.”

        This is true but (in the US at any rate) education majors tend to have low SAT scores and massive grade inflation in college.

        slithy toves

        September 16, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      • Teachers probably need to be somewhat smarter than the average student they teach, but they don’t need to be M.I.T. graduates to be good teachers. Black people with IQs of 95 (not normally college material, even for education majors) are probably excellent teachers for ghetto youth with an average IQ of 80 or less.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      • Education majors aren’t the ones who would be teaching these classes. People who get education majors generally teach K-6. 7-12 are generally taught by people who have an undergraduate degree in the subject that they teach.

        T

        September 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm

  6. Things like calling for teaching computer science in high school is more misunderstanding that there now exists a post-labor economy.

    -Most students are no longer able to find well paying jobs
    -But computer science graduates, a small amount of the population, usually do find well paying jobs
    -Let’s expand the number of computer science graduates by an order of magnitude!

    The mainstream idea in education is that this will lead to a a tenfold expansion of people in good, computer science-related jobs. But there is an alternative result that I think is more likely to happen!

    Now, it’s still a fine idea to offer computer science as an elective class in high schools or even middle schools. But the silly silver bullet thinking going on in a lot of education that massively increasing the number of people who can program will massively increase the number of people making good money in programming won’t pan out.

    Getting a computer science degree is still good advice for any given *individual*, but saying “we needs 10x the number of computer science graduates” or whatever is not good advice at a whole economy level.

    chairman

    September 16, 2015 at 11:15 am

    • Just because computer science classes won’t turn every kid into Bill Gates doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be available for smart kids who would benefit from it.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 16, 2015 at 12:47 pm

  7. I went to school in the projects and even they offered programming. So even crappy schools offered it back in the day. The country is regressing on account of so many 3rd world dirtbags immigrating for welfare.
    ***
    You’re older than me and I feel old. So, yeah, you’re really old. haha

    destructure

    September 16, 2015 at 11:16 am

  8. LotB: I graduated in 1985 and I took Computer Science and took the AP exam…

    I graduated from high school a couple of years before you, and my large Boston-area public high school offered “Data Processing” and had a “Data Processing Club.” I, however, did not participate in either.

    It’s pretty shameful, actually, that computer science still isn’t available in the vast majority of New York City public high schools.

    Wouldn’t nearly all of the NYC public school students be unable to understand the principles of Computer Science?

    E. Rekshun

    September 16, 2015 at 11:24 am

    • It should be available for the 15% who would understand it.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      • “…the 15% who would understand it.”

        Whut.

        Jesse

        September 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      • It’s not rocket science or brains surgery. A lot of very average people work in IT.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      • @Lion:

        I truly mean no disrespect here, but I don’t think you know what the real left hand side of the bell curve looks like. The people you considered “very average” probably had IQs of 110+.

        I have worked with, supervised and tutored people who were not handicapped, but who definitely had IQs in the 80s or even below. Great people. Loved working with them, but I had to slow it down to levels that most right-of-the-bell-curve folks probably can’t imagine.

        95% of the population (higher, if we’re realistic, for certain races and sub-populations) cannot do what you regard as basic computer science. They still have use. They still have value. They are still owed your loyalty if they’re your fellow Americans. But pretending that 15% of *any* school system’s high school students (let alone NYC’s public schools) would be capable of learning any of it is not just ridiculous, it’s cruel. It would be humiliating, a waste of money and it would simply allow Oriental students and their families to take over that system.

        Jesse

        September 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      • 15% of the population might be able to understand basic programing.(in the ghetto it will be lower, maybe 5%) But will they WANT to understand it? It will be regarded as an elective class and they won’t want to do much heavy-thinking because they’ll be burned out with all their math and history and stuff.

        Here’s my prediction about what will happen if they go through with this program and bring computer science to ghetto schools:

        Instructors will get the message quickly that the class, which will be an elective class, can’t be too hard or no one will sign up. Kids will see it as a “screw around on the computer” class, which was it was what is was in my high school(and mine was a solidly middle class school). For the first year or two liberals will marvel at these Underprivileged Youth learning to code. Then one day a reporter with basic knowledge of programing will be offered a tour of these classes and will dig a little deeper than the others and be shocked! to learn that most of the kids can’t code to save their lives, and the few who can brag about how they “taught themselves.”

        jasonbayz

        September 16, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      • We should teach programming for the same reason we teach calculus or Shakespeare.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      • “We should teach programming for the same reason we teach calculus or Shakespeare.”

        A fairly high chunk of the population can’t do calculus or Shakespeare either. Another chunk can only do it to a level, and at such effort, that the laws of diminishing returns kick in startlingly early. (And this refers to ability, not SES or race.)

        There are any number of perfectly valid reasons to not teach computer science in NY public schools. Budgetary constraints, very few people taking it up, lawsuits because of the demographics and that it would benefit demographics no one even wants in their schools.

        And, quite frankly, calculus and Shakespeare (especially the latter) are under such attack, even for students who could master them, that it would be a more productive use of resources to fight to keep them in the curriculum for those who are able for them, than to add one more useless subject that will dilute the core subjects and provide a very easy target for the enemies of traditional curricula.

        Jesse

        September 17, 2015 at 3:51 am

  9. @Chairman: Now, it’s still a fine idea to offer computer science as an elective class in high schools or even middle schools.

    Yes, as an elective for the few NYC public school students that would be interested and capable. NYC public schools should concentrate on mastery of the basic reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, personal responsibility, inter-personal relations, workplace behavior, basic personal finance, and mandatory vocational training – auto repair, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, sheet metal, CNA – and maybe get these students some type of certification in a vocational field by the time they graduate along with that high school diploma.

    E. Rekshun

    September 16, 2015 at 4:13 pm


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