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How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the trick-question-congress-can't-pass-anything dept.

Education 180

theodp writes: Over at Code.org, they're celebrating because more than 100 members of Congress are now co-sponsoring the Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536), making the bill designed to"strengthen elementary and secondary computer science education" the most broadly cosponsored education bill in the House. By adding fewer than 50 words to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, HR 2536 would elevate Computer Science to a "core academic subject" (current core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), a status that opens the doors not only to a number of funding opportunities, but also to a number of government regulations. So, now that we know it takes 112 U.S. Representatives to make a CS education bill, the next question is, "How many taxpayer dollars will it take to pay for the consequences?" While Code.org says "the bill is cost-neutral and doesn't introduce new programs or mandates," the organization in April pegged the cost of putting CS in every school at $300-$400 million. In Congressional testimony last January, Code.org proposed that "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund" could be used "to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools," echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy.

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400 Millimeter Dollars (5, Insightful)

pjh3000 (583652) | about 6 months ago | (#47590847)

What are 400 Millimeter Dollars?

Re:400 Millimeter Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590855)

Capital M is for Mega.

Re:400 Millimeter Dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590881)

Ergo, MM should be "mega mega" and therefore be 10^6*10^6 = 10^12 (aka, "trillion").

Stupid accountants apparently can't be bothered using K to mean thousand (as practically everyone else does) and want to overload M to mean that instead. It's stupid and they should be ashamed.

Re:400 Millimeter Dollars (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#47591505)

M is also a nautical mile, so it's 400 million nautical mile dollars.

Re:400 Millimeter Dollars (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 6 months ago | (#47591539)

It's MegaMillions.

It's 400 Million --- after typo was corrected (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 6 months ago | (#47592031)

According to this site - http://blogs.seattletimes.com/... [seattletimes.com] - the cost will be around $300 Million to $400 Million, per year

But what can 300-400 Million buy these days ? Let's see ...

According to Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org] - one F35C comes with the price tag of US$299.5M

It's up to you guys to decide where you wanna put your $$$ --- on educating the younger generation or feeding your $$$ to the industrial military complex

Sorry, but... why? (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 6 months ago | (#47590851)

Sorry, I don't buy into all this "we need to get kids using computers and programming in grade school!" crap. Or this "we need everyone to be in STEM!" crap.

Why do we need this, exactly? To keep the pool of employees huge and the pay low? Where is the push for teaching kids automotive skills in grade school? Cooking? Surgery?

Let's just focus on the basics. Teach kids to be inquisitive, critical thinking, human beings with a strong grasp of reading and writing and math and history and geography skills and knowledge. Those with an interest in other things will pursue them and doing so will be much easier with a solid primary foundation in these universal fundamentals.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590901)

Sorry, I don't buy into all this "we need to get kids using computers and programming in grade school!" crap. Or this "we need everyone to be in STEM!" crap.
According to Google and Facebook only women and minorities need that. The white males can fend for themselves.
Oh, that's right, the white males have been doing it by themselves thousands of years. Damn, I forgot.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591037)

Modded down by a nigger bitch. Even your own men don't want your black ass, bitch.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 6 months ago | (#47590961)

Sorry, I don't buy into all this "we need to get kids using computers and programming in grade school!" crap.

Why is it crap? For years many children have really struggled with why they are learning math (at least above arithmetic). Part of the problem is that they never see how it could possibly be applied to anything, ever. By teaching programming, math can begin to be applied to something; in a way that's not doing math for the sake of doing math. It's doing something, and it just so happens to use a lot of math theory. Learning CS will really strengthen many children's ability to do math, because they'll be doing something with the math, instead of math for the sake of math.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (4, Informative)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 6 months ago | (#47591007)

Instead of getting more people interested in math, I predict it will wind up getting less people interested in CS. Count on school to turn highly interesting, mentally-stimulating subjects (like math) into boring rote memorization exercises.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 6 months ago | (#47591083)

I did programming at school and I didn't find it boring in the least.

To be fair I was already super-interested in computers and programming by the time I started those classes and was easily writing programs above the level of the classwork even before I started. And the teachers knew what they were doing and how to teach things.

Heck, I still remember getting in trouble for trying to pirate VB4 off the machines in the computer labs or spending every lunch break in the labs using Netscape 3/4 to access the Internet over the schools ISDN line.

Or hosting my first website on the school servers (and getting to know the people in the school labs quite well). Or not knowing the ways of the world and putting my photograph (taken with an Apple QuickTake digital camera no less) on said website and seeing other students mess with that photograph in Photoshop.

Then again, this was a nice private school and these weren't government employees with some central bureaucracy telling them how things were going to be done, what they should teach and how they should teach it.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591319)

So basically, none of this applies to you. Too smart to even understand this topic.

"programming class" (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#47591847)

I did programming at school and

....and that's where the whole discussion goes off the rails. It seems like a simple concept..as you say, "the teachers knew what they were doing and how to teach things"...but anything "tech" is going to draw money, hype, and BS artists (irresistable to politicians)

We need **coding** or, if you prefer **programming** class in high schools.

as a distinction from your standard "computer" class...the one that teaches the history of computing and a survey of the technology

Part of the problem is the "STEM" concept has taken hold in mainstream parlance. It's a reductive concept...it turns something that ***anyone who went to high school understands*** the subjects of math and science in all their incarnations...and makes it into something that idiot education people can yell about.

I used to be an "education person" and I'm not insulting the profession...most teachers who follow modern teaching methods would completely agree with what I'm saying.

Education funding should be a non-issue. It's about as obvious as wiping your ass...it's just basic survival instinct.

I'm not making false dichotomies about the politics...****education funding issues are all Republican's fault****

The GOP uses artificial budget scarcity as a way to privatize school systems (justified by all the horrible test scores from the underfunded schools).

But look...STEM, whateverthefuckthatmeans...if it means Math and Science and the application thereof...stuff like coding...then lets do it.

Also, let's make a Computer survey class a prerequisite...just like all high schoolers must know a minimum of biology...seriously technology literacy should be factored in there.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (2)

guruevi (827432) | about 6 months ago | (#47591095)

Math has been in the boring rote memorization exercise for decades in schools. The reason is that most people simply do not grasp the 'mechanics' behind mathematics and teachers have neither the will nor the skill to teach a subject like math. I didn't like math in school simply because they went so slow and required rote memorization of multiplication tables, axioms and rules. I even remember doing tests that were simply asking to write down axioms in text form.

Some people do grasp math and those will be the nerds that eventually become STEM students. However 75% of the population will never enter this field because they're simply not wired to understand it.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 6 months ago | (#47591347)

Math has been in the boring rote memorization exercise for decades in schools.

The best math teacher I ever had, including college and grad school, was from 7th grade. He went off curriculum on nearly every topic, always showing us real world practical applications of a topic/technique when the book and formal state-approved lesson plan failed to do so. It really made a difference.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591883)

That's an incredibly dangerous approach to take when teaching. The state approved lesson plan and topics are what a teacher is supposed to be covering. It doesn't matter how well the teacher might cover other things, if he isn't covering those points well enough, he's probably going to be fired before too long.

I don't like it, that's why I'm happier not being in the system, but it sucks to have a system where outcome isn't important unless it shows up on a poorly designed standardized test.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 6 months ago | (#47591107)

Count on school to turn highly interesting, mentally-stimulating subjects (like math) into boring rote memorization exercises

A lot of schools already do this. They (some schools) were doing it since the 80's that I know of. If your school is/was different, count yourself lucky because you had a couple of good teachers who are/were allowed to teach. And from what I understand, that will end when common core kicks completely in and they have to follow a lesson plan dictated to them while teaching to the test.

The GP was correct when he said "Part of the problem is that they never see how it could possibly be applied to anything, ever." I had that same problem. Things like Pi was explained to me as "it is just because" not that "it is the ration between a circle's circumference and diameter". "Just because it is" was good enough reason when asking why do we need Pi and any explanation of why I needed all that math boiled down to somehow saving money at the supermarket or something inane. Of course my teachers probably weren't qualified as math teachers and taught from a book rather than their knowledge but that was what our small town passed off as an education. I was lucky too, the other math teacher in high school was the football coach and I'm pretty sure he was teaching only because the school didn't want to justify the expense of a dedicated coach.

Of course now that I have been out of high school for almost 30 years, I have had plenty of opportunities to use what was or should have been leaned in math and for the most part, had to use the internet in order to look up the formulas, how to do some of them, and in some cases the answers. But that goes to the age old saying, if I knew then what I know now, things would be different.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (2)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#47591263)

This. Don't tell kids why they need to memorize this facts and formulas, teach them how to figure them out for themselves. Teach them the basics of how things interact and let them decide which things and interactions interest them; they will then seek out the facts and formulas that are relevant to those interests. Then, you have taught them how to learn. On their own.

Which is the best kind.

That's not to say you can't, or shouldn't learn from others. Quite the opposite, in fact. One of the most important things you can possibly learn is how to tell when your source is wrong, (optionally) call them out on it, and find another source. If you can't do that, you'll forever rely on others to tell you what should be important to you and spoon-feed you "facts" about those things. On the other hand, learning "on your own" is a matter of figuring out what's actually important to you, or at least how to discern a reliable source for "what's important" for a particular subject or goal, and seek out that information yourself. That shouldn't stop you from relying on the work and knowledge of others; it just doesn't require you to do so.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591905)

That's not really how education works. There's a limited amount of time to cover all the material that one needs to complete highschool If students had to derive all the formulas and recreate the proofs, graduation would have to come sometime after 30th grade.

The facts aren't anywhere near as important as you seem to think. The purpose of education is to get students to be able to think critically and synthesize facts. As well as to have a basic understanding of the facts necessary to get along in society.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (2)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591933)

The purpose of education is to get students to be able to think critically

Which is exactly what the education system is failing at. Everything is about rote memorization and passing poorly-designed standardized tests that require that you do little beyond regurgitating the facts you were supposed to memorize. What remains barely requires any critical thinking whatsoever.

It does a decent job of turning most people into rote memorization monkeys that can't think for themselves, though.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591939)

Also, no one is saying that they have to derive all the formulas and proofs from scratch. You don't have to do that in order to come to an intuitive understanding of why things work.

All that's happening now is mindless memorization, and then most people forget a grand majority of the facts they memorized, making the whole thing almost completely worthless. That's not 'education.'

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

Livius (318358) | about 6 months ago | (#47592079)

The purpose of education is to get students to be able to think critically and synthesize facts.

It used to be, but now the education system is dedicated to a daycare/prison system to warehouse children because wages are so depressed that no family can have an able-bodied adult not bringing in a money income.

Quizzes on operator precedence ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 6 months ago | (#47591307)

Count on school to turn highly interesting, mentally-stimulating subjects (like math) into boring rote memorization exercises.

I can see it now, quizzes on operator precedence for all the C language operators.

Re:Quizzes on operator precedence ... (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#47591743)

I also figure with our inept, corrupt lawmakers, they'll mandate something too specific that will tie future classrooms full of kids into the 2014 equivalent of punch cards.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591089)

That really only applies to a subset of high school level math, whereas this is apparently going to push it into elementary and middle school. What's more, computers are more likely to just add another layer of complexity as well as more distraction from math. It's like when someone can't maintain a healthy relationship and decides that somehow polyamory will fix things -- usually the answer is to look deeper into the situation (e.g., home life) rather than to just shove more on to the pile and hope that does the trick.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (4, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 6 months ago | (#47591155)

Honestly, forcing computer programming on kids will have the same effect as forcing math on them. It's no different - it's a way of solving problems, except by using logic and algorithms rather than equations. It's still a general solution in search of a problem. I think a lot of tech people tend to view technology as being interesting or important for it's own sake, but that's not how the world at large sees technology (nor should it). It's only real-world value is in what it can do for us that we couldn't do before without it, as heretical as that may sound here on slashdot.

My advice to educators is to let kids make their own computer games. You'll sucker them into doing some of the hardest sort of programming there is, and they'll likely enjoy it. More importantly, for those that are more artistically or creatively inclined rather than technically inclined, they can help out with artwork, story, music, and sound effects. Videogame programming is a fantastic cross-discipline project that can involve all sorts of different skills and abilities. So, not everyone has to write code, but everyone can contribute in some way.

I've found that computer games are great at driving home the need to learn higher math as well. Geometry, linear algebra, and matrix math are all used extensively in many types of games. Kids will naturally run into these problems, and probably work in vain to come up with a home-grown solution. At that point they're primed to learn a more elegant solution using higher math. The big advantage is that this lesson concretely demonstrates the value and usefulness of that math, making it much easier to learn and appreciate since it has a useful context.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (3, Interesting)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#47591303)

This post succinctly describes why I'm not a Java developer, no matter how many times I've set out to learn the language. I'm primarily a web developer, full-stack LAMP and JavaScript (with strong sysadmin roots), so everything I've ever set out to develop in Java had followed the same process: start development, determine I could implement it better as a web app, begin implementing as a web app, get annoyed at reimplementing logic I've already done, causing me to eventually abandon the project. It wasn't until recently, when I started a project that can't really work as a web app, that the light came on and the value of Java (likely as a stepping stone to a number of other languages) became concrete for me; as you said, making it much easier to learn and appreciate since it has a useful context.

This is how people learn. Give them a problem, give them the tools. Hell, show them what the solution should look like. Leave it to them to figure out how to get from the problem to the solution; don't tell them anything they don't ask for. Let them fuck up. When they get stumped, they'll ask for help; show them what they did wrong, don't tell them what they should have done, unless they ask. People are inherently smart, unless you teach them to be dumb.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591517)

determine I could implement it better as a web app

Web apps are fuckin' garbage. Why would you even do that?

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#47591579)

To answer your question...

I'm primarily a web developer, full-stack LAMP and JavaScript (with strong sysadmin roots)

Slashdot is a web app. You're using it. Must not be that bad.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

sensationull (889870) | about 6 months ago | (#47591759)

Have you tried Slashdot beta, that squeezes more web app stuff in, the older/better version uses far less and the better version before that used even less web app JS nightmare fuel. The thing is the more heavy and 'modern' you make a web app the worse it gets.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 months ago | (#47591777)

I won't disagree with you on that front; however, that doesn't mean all web apps are crap -- just most, as decent web devs who aren't acting under direction of the marketing and accounting departments more-so than their managers in engineering are few and far between.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591943)

I must not have updated my buzzword dictionary to the latest version; I didn't know that "web app" included everything you could possibly access or interact with over the Internet.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591305)

It's not that people can't *do* math that is the problem; it's that they don't have an intuitive understanding of why it works that is the problem. You can write all the programs you want that use the Pythagorean theorem, but you're not necessarily ever going to come to an understanding of why it works by doing so. It's like doing 50 "Find the missing side of the triangle!"-type problems; those are utterly worthless.

Computer and electronics literacy ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 6 months ago | (#47591443)

They probably won't be learning CS. Most people, including many around here, mistake CS for anything computer related.

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but if they incorporate some practical computer lesson and projects into the curriculum it may not be so bad. Things that are more general and practical in nature. Perhaps creating a web page that involves a little java script, maybe connecting a temperature sensor to a raspberry pi and writing a script to read it, etc. Are these CS or EE, not really, more computer/electronics literacy in my opinion.

I'm thinking of a class project that we did in 9th grade science class. We had a transparent plastic box and lid, the box had cm markings on the side. In the box was placed a terrain model with hills and valleys. We added water to the box until reaching a cm line and while looking straight down through the lid traced the water lines. We repeated this at the various cm lines. In effect we created a topographical map. Were we doing geography in the university geography class sense, no, but it was a very useful lesson in the general sense of scientific literacy(*). I think we could do a better job with such lesson with respect to computer and electronics literacy.

Again, I admit to being perhaps overly optimistic. I'm sure the US Gov't could royally botch any such attempt to improve computer and electronics literacy through simple practical lessons and projects.

(*) It was also an incredibly valuable lesson when I later learned land navigation with map and compass, route planning, ... so many others were just stuck on how these lines on a topo map represented terrain features.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 6 months ago | (#47591699)

For ordinary programming you don't need math.
And certainly nothing beyond arithmetic.

Math is needed in programming when you start doing something more hardcore, e.g 3D engines need some (limited) knowledge about geometry. Or if you want to simulate something like a satelite orbit.

It is roughly once a year that I have to calculate something on paper that is relevant for a software project. The software projects themselve usually don't use any math except +/- I don't even remember when I used the last time * or / ...

I guess I only use it regulary in the spread sheet for my bill, sad actually.

My actual project is just a self made NOSQL DB with insane high data input and sophisticated access algorithms. There must be somewhere a * and / hidden in the code calculating the hashes to access the disk blocks ... but thst is abstracted away for me :)

So bottom line: math is overrated, you only realy need it in corner cases of software development.

That does not mean it is useless.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590985)

To keep the pool of employees huge and the pay low?

Well, almost. It is true that higher education gives one more opportunities for higher paying jobs. But, back when a relatively small proportion of the population could afford a higher education, the opportunities and pay differences were huge.

Now that we live in a country where most people have a higher education, it is no longer nearly as much a differentiating factor as it used to be. This results in lots of jobs that would not otherwise require a higher education now requiring it, and the people who must accept these jobs wind up with lifelong debt and depression.

And yes, the higher availability of qualified candidates does pull salaries down for the jobs that actually need such degrees.


If you go the other direction, and stop funding education with taxpayer dollars, then you reinstate a severe class disparity in which poor people have no means at all of moving up the social ladder, and only rich people can get the higher education and the higher-paying jobs.

So, which evil would you rather have?

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591081)

My guess is as the others. This is just greed based from big corporations.

I'd rather leave education up to the state level with some basics dictating federal funding. By basics I mean reading, writing, math, and science. Coding shouldn't be one of them. While coding would be a nice elective, I don't think it should necessarily be a requirement.

I'll make this brief. Just a week-long lesson on coding/scripting in mathematics classes should suffice. This could be Mathematica, Matlab, R, etc. Or things not related to math. Even programming on a TI-89 calculator could be fun. The goal should be a weak introduction to coding/scripting and the logic behind what one is writing. I feel coding/scripting is less important than say proofs and axioms.

Now, what we may want to do is to ensure students have the option to get into the T. and E. in S.T.E.M. by ensuring that they can elect to have those classes if they so choose. This might mean going to another school nearby specifically for that class, or maybe taking it at a community college. Maybe providing financial assistance to help poor school districts offer said electives would be a good idea. I'm thinking on a trial basis for 3 years, and if significant students take the classes, funding would be provided. Otherwise, the funding is cut off. But this is about providing money for electives in poor school districts who may not have the property tax revenue to justify adding those classes over the basics. And no, this isn't an justification for putting it into the common core.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591309)

What about poor states? Same issue as "reinstate a severe class disparity in which poor people have no means at all of moving up the social ladder". This is not a state level issue, this is a national issue. Heck, education is a world wide issue. It is a requirement for a functional society.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 months ago | (#47591069)

Agreed, there is no need to push for any particular subject beyond ability to read, write and do basic arithmetic. Once those are covered, the kids should no longer be required to be in school. Should be able to go into trades (probably for most), trade schools, should let those, who are truly interested to continue education by removing huge artificial demand created with all the government subsidised debt (student loans) and should get rid of the minimum wage laws and laws that prevent 15 year olds from being hired.

In Germany there is a separation into different type of schooling, where most kids end up in Hauptschule [wikipedia.org] and may actually start working from around age 15 (vocational training, training at work).

The next level of schooling is called Realschule [wikipedia.org] , this one allows you to move to the next level if you can (Gymnasium [wikipedia.org] ) or to do vocational training. Gymnasium is your preparation for further education in a university.

What would make much more sense in USA would be to get rid of minimum wage laws, allow people to work for small compensation and train at work. If my company was based in USA I would hire 15 year olds in a heartbeat. I would train them for a couple of months if I wasn't forced to pay anybody anything more than they are worth if there were no laws that would make this arrangement prohibitively expensive. A 15 year old, who is interested in learning a profession and is willing to be an apprentice is not in any way worse than a 21 year old, who finished university with a worthless degree in women studies and is now unemployable, because the debt prevents him or her from taking a low paying job, while at the same time they have 0 skills (no more than a 15 year old without such 'education' would).

Of-course USA job numbers came out for July 2014 [blogspot.ca]

* 205,000 jobs added to the economy
* U3 unemployment rate rose from 6.1% to 6.2%
* Not in Labor Force, but Want a Job Now: up 144,000 to 6.259 million
* Employment/population ratio ages 25-54: down from 76.7% to 76.6%

* the overall employment to population ratio for all ages 16 and above rose 0.1% from 58.9 to 59.0%, and has risen by +0.3% YoY. The labor force participation rate rose from 62.8% to 62.9, and has fallen by -0.5% YoY (but remember, this includes droves of retiring Boomers).

25-54 year olds lost net 142,000 jobs.

16-19 year olds gained 44,000 jobs.
20-24 year olds gained 43,000 jobs.
55-69 year olds gained159,000 jobs.

So teenagers are finding part time jobs in the economy (summer), the so called 'retired' are coming out of retirement, because they can't afford to be retired in this economy anymore and the people in the main working age bracket have fewer permanent jobs and out of the 205,000 jobs created, that's just the delta, it doesn't show how many good, well paying permanent jobs were actually lost and how many part time jobs were created.

While the net jobs created are 205,000, most of the jobs created are part time, lower paying jobs, while jobs that are lost are full time, better paying jobs.

So what is going on with the job market exactly? Well, the same thing that is going on with the economy. The numbers can be demonstrated to be 'good' if you do not pay attention to the details. The reality is the opposite, the numbers are not good.

I would say that the USA economy needs fewer people in the universities and more people in trade, more people picking up skills as apprentices, skills that would make them employable without getting into gigantic debt with all the student loans.

It is expensive to hire people in USA, while the wages are not very high, the actual labour cost to the employees is high due to various laws, regulations, taxes, litigation costs, insurance, etc, so this is a bad scenario, where people cost too much to their employees, get too little into their hands and apparently produce very little output, since the USA trade deficit keeps rising (500 Billion USD/year for years and going up).

Vocational math class ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 6 months ago | (#47591293)

From talking to older family members it seems that the US had a two track educational system in the 1940s and 50s too. One track vocationally oriented and one college prep oriented. Everyone took math classes of some sort for most/all of high school, even the kids on the vocational track. On the vocational track it was practical job site oriented math (which included some algebra and trig techniques) plus some financial literacy and home economics.

I think in this respect the non-college prep kids were better served back then.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591373)

I would have loved to start a vocational type school when I was 13, yet a lone 15, but most people don't know what they want to do in the first place. There are people in their 20s that are confused about what direction to go in life.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 months ago | (#47591407)

Sure, ppl are confused at 20 because they haven't tried anything yet, they already have all that school debt by 20 and no idea what to do. Starting with some job at 14 would give people direction and would provide them with valuable experience.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

danheskett (178529) | about 6 months ago | (#47591843)

You've pretty much hit on a few major themes of what is wrong with the American economy right now.

Three broad things:

1. Companies have successfully externalized costs that they should be paying. This legislation is an example of that: companies that are large and profitable should pay to train the workers they want, instead of importing ready-trained (sometimes) workers for less pay. By making the education system the training ground for a highly industry specific field, big companies that need lots of technical people are pushing their costs out to third-parties, namely schools and people who pay for schools.

This is just one example. Huge companies are being built and disrupting industries, and much of it is built upon on labor, capital, and regulatory arbitrage. Uber is a good example - it is executing a strategy of regulatory arbitrage to undercut the traditional taxi business. Additionally, in the Uber example, you have massive cram-down of costs to smaller parties, like Uber drivers. A traditional taxi cab company will pay a huge operating expense to maintain and insure it's fleet. In the Uber model, that cost is pushed down to the driver, where this is enormous incentive to skimp or take risks. Every new disruptive thing that is happening is wringing not only excess (which is long-term economically good) but also decades or centuries of practice, tradition, and local law. The cost savings eventually must come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the middle class.

2. The distributed state model is good for trying out new policies, but eventually bad for business. Having a non-uniform employment and benefit market nationwide is a problem in the long-run. Also, businesses have persuaded the thousands of policy makers to create thousands, or tens-of-thousands, of small carves out, protections, etc that distort the market and create uneven and eventually economically harmful protectionists. Example, in New Jersey consumers can't pump their own gas. Nationwide, industries with good paying jobs are convincing state and local regulators to require specialty business licenses and operating requirements to prevent competition and sustain economic rent seeking activities that normally would be driven from the market. The ongoing failure to fix our national pension system, our healthcare payment and delivery system, and the failure to provide a rational basis for funding primary education has resulted in a hodge-podge of inefficient taxation and revenue collection models. Federal-level failures have created the high-cost, low-wage conundrum that you point out. The result is a labor market where the best jobs are being retained by the financially most stable and well-off cohort (the near-retirement boomers and their followers).

Basically, economic inefficiency is being codified and cemented instead of allowed to run it's course and be purged from the system. From over financialization of the economy, to corporate cost shifting, to environmental concerns - across the board, our nationwide policy making apparatus has been in paralysis for 30 very dynamic years, and it's not good.

3. The basic economics are getting out of whack. We are importing both legal and illegal a large number of foreign workers who are acting like a pressure relief value on economic development. By depressing wages and not-forming American-style, 2-parent/child households, consumption across the economy is being thrown out of whack. Despite jobs reports to the contrary, the US economy has not seen any quarters of real growth where economic activity expanded faster than new credit extension. Essentially, since the mid-1980's, every dollar of GDP expansion has come at the cost of a dollar or more of credit expansion. This is driving a growing demand gap that simply can't be papered over. Americans feel more insecure because they are poorer, which is an unusual thing for us to feel. We are not used to it. But the demand gap that been floating around in the system since 2007-2008 is getting worse, and each passing month it grows and grows. On top of that, Americans are declining, morally, into slothful and wasteful libertines, spending enomoursly on entertainment, dining, and housing far more than their relative wealth should be able to support.

The net result is that we are wasting a lot of American-labor capital, mis-allocating a dramatic share of our economic activity to things which do not increase the wealth or health of a nation, and starting to feel the effects of decades of credit-based expansion and monetary inflation.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 6 months ago | (#47591087)

No one is suggesting everyone needs to be in STEM. At the same time though, it's widely accepted that the population could use a significantly broader awareness of the topics involved in STEM fields. We read Shakespeare, study history, and learn about government, not because we're necessarily going to become playwrights, historians, and politicians, but rather so that we have a broader understand of our culture, our world, and the ways in which it functions. The same is needed with STEM.

You point out that we need to be teaching critical thinking skills, and rightly so! But what better way to do so than explicitly teaching people how to think in the logical manner that a computer does? I have fond memories of learning Logo [wikipedia.org] back in 4th grade. It wasn't until sometime in college that I even realized my first computer science education hadn't been in high school—where I learned Java, C++, and a handful of other languages—but rather way back when I used loops and other commands to move a turtle around on a screen in the early '90s.

I have no idea if my having learned that back in 4th grade affected my later choices to pursue this field. But what I do know was that it was an age-appropriate set of lessons that were fun and forced me to develop thinking skills I didn't have at that point. I didn't suddenly become a computer scientist or get forced into this field because I did some programming back then, but it did shape my thinking for the better. That's something I should hope everyone has the opportunity to enjoy.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591393)

it's widely accepted that the population could use a significantly broader awareness of the topics involved in STEM fields.

I don't even think most people are capable of truly understanding all but the most simple concepts. You see this in math, where people think that being able to *use* math is essentially the same as having an intuitive understanding of why and how it works. And it isn't just because of our awful education system that things are like this, though that certainly helps.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591143)

Why do we need this, exactly?

To create a job for your useless brother-in-law so your wife will let you pet the cat...

Teach kids to be inquisitive, critical thinking, human beings...

Are you serious? The entire system is designed to rip that kind of treachery out of the little rug rats... Conformity is what is required. You don't want kids asking questions...

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

knightghost (861069) | about 6 months ago | (#47591175)

75% of STEM workers leave their field. There isn't a recruiting or training shortage, there's a retention issue.


2 simple reasons:
1. STEM workers are paid less than other disciplines that require similar intelligence, skills, and experience.
2. STEM workers are pushed to lower social levels. In some places I've seen them regarded lower than the janitorial staff.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 6 months ago | (#47591203)

"To keep the pool of employees huge and the pay low? "

Well you have the answer right there, but seemed to miss it somehow.

This is not a feel-good story of congress doing something positive for the USA's fail-sauce edumication system that leaves no child behind by slowing down all the children and teachers.

It is simply morally corrupt politicians ensuring more meat for the IT grinder run by their campaign donors to help lower IT wages.

Very plain, very simple.

Don't believe me? Where is the 100 cosponsor bill to fix the rest of the education sector?

Oh, that's right...nowhere.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

fche (36607) | about 6 months ago | (#47591605)

... plus why on earth would it need to be a *federal* matter? Education is local, at best state level jurisdiction.

Re:Sorry, but... why? (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 6 months ago | (#47591995)

I think there is some truth to this, but there is a problem in our highly mobile society if one city teaches things in one order and another city two states away teaches things in a different order. When a student's parent's move between these two cities, their kids are screwed (for example, they may never have learned what their peers at their new school learned last year and may be bored stiff "relearning" what their peers are studying this year but they learned last year).

As well, it seems very useful for employers to be able to count on a "high school degree" from any public high school to mean that the candidate has gained some minimum level of education. Of course, we are not even close to this now but it seems like a good idea. True, employers could work with ETS or someone to develop a national testing program that employers could rely on without having to run their own tests on each candidate, but that's a lot of overhead for everyone (although, it might be a good idea given how little a high school degree means today).

The later actually might be a good business opportunity for ETS -- employers would pay $2 for each certified query of test scores (which would be fairly detailed and include the dates and number of attempts etc) and people could take the test for a small fee (the real money for ETS would be in the continuing stream of paid queries by employers). A nice uniform standard for all that employers could count on for some subset of skills assessment.

Sorry, but... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47592087)

Critical thinking is probably the single most important thing they could add to the school system.... but the last thing politicians want is a population with strong critical thinking skills.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590853)

Most programmers already have absolutely no idea what they're doing. Hopefully this doesn't just encourage people who have no aptitude to try to be programmers, because we sure as hell don't need any more bad or mediocre idiots thinking they can program well.

And these "Computer Science" classes always turn out to be programming classes in disguise, rendering the name completely inappropriate.

Re:Great... (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 6 months ago | (#47590975)

Won't these classes rather be on how to use word processors, spreadsheets, and other Microsoft applications, and name-the-parts-of-the-computer, and such? Maybe write some Visual BASIC on the last week of the semester.

Re:Great... (2)

Proudrooster (580120) | about 6 months ago | (#47591033)

Don't forget about about the mandatory training in Ethics and Legal Issues, Digital Citizenship, Workplace Safety, Copyright education and why the ripping of CDs is evil. :)
Here is a link to the Michigan High School CTE Computer Programming standards.
http://www.ctenavigator.org/re... [ctenavigator.org]

Re:Great... (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 6 months ago | (#47592005)

How appropriately ironic that this document is an Excel spreadsheet.

Amusing, but potentially a waste of time (1)

zkiwi34 (974563) | about 6 months ago | (#47590871)

Saying that CS will be considered core doesn't change the simple fact that it won't make the universities care.

If you want to do CS (or EE) at uni then the requirement is top end math (Calculus) and Physics, with it being a bonus if you've also done Chemistry. Until that changes it doesn't matter what else happens, CS is going to continue to be a lame duck option for high school students.

Re:Amusing, but potentially a waste of time (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 6 months ago | (#47591019)

While Physics and Chemistry are not particularly useful, it's difficult to dispute that Calculus (and, by extension, Lambda Calculus [wikipedia.org] ) is useful for Computer Science.

Easy enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590875)

Make the H1B fees $50,000/head per year. That'll stop H1Bs from being abused, and we can see just how much of a lack of U.S. software engineers there really is as opposed to how much of it is just trying to lower wages -- to the benefit, as it happens, of many of the companies sponsoring code.org.

Re:Easy enough (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 6 months ago | (#47590949)

Why would they even bother with H1Bs if it is that expensive. Import them illegally and pay them as illegals. It's what is happening with the low education jobs and the government- outside of a few angry republicans do not really care. Some of them actually encourage it. Hell, look at the kids crossing entire third party countries to come into the US because it's known that no one will make them leave.

Re:Easy enough (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 6 months ago | (#47592023)

I've thought this as well -- although I think $50K per head corporate H-1B tax is too high for many cases. It just needs to be high enough to make absolutely sure that it swamps the "fudging" on pay rates that companies do for H-1Bs. I think something like 20-25% of salary is enough.

There's plenty of times I would have happily paid that tax because there just weren't any great candidates available except H-1Bs. I hate hiring H-1Bs because of the paperwork, but have done it when I need to and have never paid them less because they were H-1Bs (and, it cost more in reality because of the legal costs, my time, and HR's time).

Should be STEM in general (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590879)

I'm all for broadening interest in CompSci, it is my life. However, I think we need to encourage STEM more broadly. If you absolutely have to pick one area to start with, make it math instead. That would naturally boost the rest of STEM as a bonus.

The core subjects are (should be) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590883)

And the 12 Maturities...
Sociable personality
Fitness and good health
Curiosity, enthusiasm for learning and knowledge
Stand up for principles
Develop and defend own opinions.
Artistic appreciation and accomplishment
Excellence of Rs
Imagination and abstract thought
Temptation : Awareness and resistance. Self discipline

More at : http://vulpeculox.net/12/index.htm

"adding fewer than 50 words" ... like ! or ~ ? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 6 months ago | (#47590915)

"Honest, I only added a few symbols! Why doesn't the program work anymore?" Besides, computer science used to be part of either math or engineering, depending in which school you went to; we could just go back to that and suggest that it be a REAL SUBJECT instead of just tossing web images together and claiming you "wrote" something.

The question should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47590927)

How deep is the pork barrel?

Wrong question (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 6 months ago | (#47590973)

..."comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund" could be used "to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools,"

Translation: We'll do this and then we'll have to let more H-1B foreigners into the country to pay for it. The question isn't how many tax dollars this law will cost, it is how many American jobs it will cost and how further American technical jobs can be devalued by an in-flood of cheap foreign labor.

They should've removed one to make room. (1, Funny)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 6 months ago | (#47590989)

current core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography

I get english, and reading/language arts (which is english), math, science, foreign languages I suppose is a wobbler for me, civics and government smells a bit like history, but sure, count it separate, economics is pretty important, as well as history and geography...but arts? Plain old arts?

I'm sorry, but if people want to make paper mache, or paint, or draw, or throw pots, you can do that on your own damn time. It's akin to having "computer gaming", or "stamp collecting" a core academic subject -> art is a *hobby*, not an academic subject.

Re:They should've removed one to make room. (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 6 months ago | (#47591045)

One? I would have removed all of the arts and all of the foreign languages. I would certainly place computer science higher than any of those on a list of things that deserve to be "core subjects".

Re: They should've removed one to make room. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591651)

Protip: most kids don't learn English well until they take a second language. The English teachers don't know or teach grammar, and the kids often don't really understand what's going on until they see it in an unfamiliar language. I'd rather see foreign language starting as early as possible, perhaps kindergarten, and CS remaining an elective late in the school career when higher reasoning is possible. There are developmental barriers to starting heavier logic like CS early (look up Piaget), but language acquisition faces no such cognitive impediment (look up Chomsky).

Re: They should've removed one to make room. (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591755)

Protip: most kids don't learn English well until they take a second language.

Protip: Nonsense. That has more to do with bad teaching than it does having to take a foreign language to understand the native language of your own fucking country. My high school forced people to take French when I was in school, and it was simply awful. Bad teaching will make any subject seem impossible to learn, especially since most people seem to have no desire to learn on their own, and would rather be spoon fed (hence, public 'education').

Re:They should've removed one to make room. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591783)

That says more about you and the people who failed you when you were a child than about the value of arts or foreign languages compared with computer science.

Re:They should've removed one to make room. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591975)

I think what it says about him is that he cares about critical thinking and useful innovation more than uselessly 'learning' foreign languages (hint: learning foreign languages in classroom is very inefficient, and is almost never successful) or forcing subjective subjects (art) upon people and subjectively saying that it makes them better people.

Re:They should've removed one to make room. (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 6 months ago | (#47591141)

Architecture is an important art with plenty of math worked into it, the human body in art is also a great case for both biology and math; art is important and should be a core academic subject supporting the rest however it should not be "arts and crafts" which is not art but a way of keeping kids busy.

It should be the reasons behind art, what makes a thing aesthetically pleasing, what harmonics are and how colors and light mix but how do you convince a populace that doesn't even understand half of the words in this sentence that that is what art is and why it's important?

Re:They should've removed one to make room. (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591385)

It should be the reasons behind art, what makes a thing aesthetically pleasing

That's utterly subjective, and why I think it should *not* be a core subject. If you want to take it, fine, but don't force your bullshit on me. This sort of mentality ("I like it, so everyone should have to take it.") was part of the reason why I never took public school seriously and eventually just dropped out.

Stupid idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591023)

Ultimately, no significant cash would reach the classrooms, but piles of new regulations and requirements would.

We do not need more STEM workers; we have a surplus as is proven by the fact that wages in the field are essentially flat (a shortage would drive wages up). US employers do not even want American STEM workers; they want the inexpensive, pliable, and held-hostage-by-immigration-papers variety. Half the STEM workers we already have are working outside of their fields and we have millions of unemployed. If we need to have ANY effort to boost ANY career area via education manipulation it should be a massive boost in the skilled trades like welding.

Education is simply NOT a federal responsibility, and every federal intervention has made things worse. If you read even the letters by ordinary Civil War soldiers to their families you see how far our education system has degraded - in comparison I'd rate most current high school grads as illiterate. The education most Americans got in "the basics" in the 1930's (often in one-room school houses, often run by a young woman with a two-year degree) produced a generation able to build the and use the industrial might for WWII - something the current generation probably could not do. Many of THAT generation were then able to go on to college and get actual degrees (as opposed to degrees in ethinc or women's studies) and then "put a man on the moon". Subsequent generations educated with lots of federal government meddling are unable to put a monkey into space today (even given all the information the earlier guys had to learn the first time and given far more time than the earlier guys had). The feds are too slow to react properly (they'll set standards that rapidly become obsolete and will still be pushing stuff when industry no longer uses it) and any money gets filtered through too many hands, funding too many "experts" and administrators before it gets from the taxpayer, to Washington, back to the taxpayer's state and ultimately trickles into his child's school. For every million tax dollars, I'd bet $10 makes it into a classroom, where we keep being told teachers need to buy their own chalk despite education funding being higher per-pupil than ever before.

A further problem is that things like programming are more like art than many other things - a bit of a "calling" where you need to like it and have a talent for it or you will suck at it no matter how well-trained. Most kids will never be programmers, never care about programming, etc. Teaching all kids CS stuff is a bit like forcing all kids to join the chess club or the marching band.

MM = 1000 * 1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591065)

This is common knowledge, right?

Re:MM = 1000 * 1000 (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 6 months ago | (#47591189)

This is common knowledge, right?

MM = 1,000 + 1,000 = 2,000. And it would have been common knowledge about 2,000 years ago, not so much today. :-)

Stopping the race to the bottom (2)

cowdung (702933) | about 6 months ago | (#47591165)

I applaud this effort.

I recently toured 14 campuses in the US and it is clear to me that Engineering and Science is a low priority for most american youth based on the comments I heard from students and tour guides. Also, movies and tv shows keep portraying scientists, engineers and computer people as weird and devoid of social life.

If the US is to continue to be a country of innovation it needs to inform its youth that the highest demand jobs are those that involve MATH and Science and Engineering. It needs to give these subjects a higher priority in the curriculum. Because it is through these subjects that people will be able to BUILD the future.

Its nice that so many people are in to art history, or sociology, or communications. But what the economy needs is innovators that can bring technological solutions to make the world a better place. The salary discrepancies clearly show this.

Teaching programming will help students model and understand the world and to solve its technological problems.

70% of the youth in Asia chose Science and Engineering jobs. In the Americas the trend is the opposite only about 30% chose these fields. No wonder so many work at Walmart and are wondering if higher education is worth the investment.

Re:Stopping the race to the bottom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591377)

No wonder so many work at Walmart and are wondering if higher education is worth the investment.

'Everybody's gotta go to college!' is a poisonous mentality that only kills education. If many people who don't belong in college/university (people who just want a job and don't care about true education, unintelligent people, etc.) start going, colleges and universities drop standards to appeal to these people in order to get more money, and education suffers. Most colleges are like this, and some universities are like this.

As someone who went to a good university, I can say with certainty that most people simply don't belong. They should go to trade schools, or stay out altogether. Colleges and universities are for people who want to increase their understanding of the universe.

It's a trick question... (1)

guygo (894298) | about 6 months ago | (#47591217)

The vaulted Speaker of the House has already stated it is a better metric to judge them on how many laws they have repealed. Oh... nevermind.

Bad idea (3, Interesting)

blindseer (891256) | about 6 months ago | (#47591235)

When I was in school the "computer" class was not much more than learning to type. We got to play with AppleWorks and some sort of graphics program, the best one could get with 8 bits of color.

I recall a conversation I had with a co-worker about how we need more and better computers in schools or our children will be somehow educationally stunted. I pointed out how the Apple ProDos and Microsoft DOS systems we used reflected the Windows 7, Mac OSX, and Linux systems we use today. Elementary school children don't need fancy computers. I wonder if they need computers at all. I'm sure that skills like typing will be important, I took that in high school. Students will need to understand that computers do what they are told, not what you want them to do, but that is true of many things. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry have similar rules. I could argue that law has similar rigor, words mean things. If the law does not mean what you want it to mean then change the law. Perhaps that is a rant for another time.

Point is that computers are an important part of modern life. Computer technology is still changing fast, whether it is faster or slower now than when I was in grade school is debatable. Rather than teach "computers" to children perhaps we need to find a way to work computers into every subject. Art class should have a portion where students work in PhotoShop, just like they have sections on clay, paint, or colored pencils. Shop class should have a portion on CNC milling. Mathematics has all kinds of options to work in computing. Chemistry and physics classes can work in computers to run simulations and compare to real world experimentation, or do some statistical analysis on data collected in experiments.

I believe that teaching "computer science" at too young of an age is a bad idea. It will do little to prepare children for life as an adult. I suspect most implementations of "computer science" at anything other than college or trade school levels will be twisted into something that is not "computer science". It will be much like what I had in school, an excuse to play with expensive toys and the only real skills derived from it will be learning how to type. It doesn't have to be that way but I believe that is how it will end up because real computer scientists rarely choose to teach, they make more money doing something else. Much of the issues with teachers not getting paid enough has to do with the government funded education system we have now.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591453)

If the law does not mean what you want it to mean then change the law.

Or have a bigger legal budget than the opposition.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591541)

The point of CS education _should_ be to teach that the computer and the Internet is not magic, and that anybody can develop the ability to command it to do your bidding. It should be like driver's ed - what you should or shouldn't do with a computer.

Re:Bad idea (2)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 6 months ago | (#47591771)

It should be like driver's ed - what you should or shouldn't do with a computer.

That doesn't sound like Computer Science at all; it sounds like an abomination. If you want to force people to take "Microsoft Essentials"-type classes where specific software and tips are learned by rote, then give them proper names; don't lie and say it's CS.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591571)

I could argue that law has similar rigor, words mean things. If the law does not mean what you want it to mean then change the law.

You could argue that, but you would be wrong. The law means what the people in power want it to mean either because they wrote it or because they ignore the parts they don't like, as President Obama is fond of doing, but banish from your head any notion that the law is based upon either logic or reason because that is most definitely not the case. It's a common misconception among ordinary people, but the law is almost never logical or reasonable. It exists merely as a tool for use by the powerful to control the unwashed masses.

CS Unplugged (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47592075)


"CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around."

Re:Bad idea (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 6 months ago | (#47592077)

I generally agree, but some free access computers would have been nice to have. I was interested enough in computers as a child to read all the available books in the library, including books on DOS and C and Larry Wall's Programming Perl, but I never had the chance to compile anything. Needless to say it didn't quite stick in the sense of learning to program, although it did provide a bit of foundation for such things later on.

When we actually did use computers the instructor always seemed like the least knowledgeable person on how to use them, and the class would mostly distract themselves with the internet while the instructor struggled with the projector and offered largely obvious comments.

The most I ever learned about computers was when I managed to put Trinux on a floppy, and then Knoppix on a CD, and commandeer my teachers' computers during lunchtime. But it's impossible to play around in normal circumstances -- the teachers of course find it far simpler to forbid you to do anything interesting rather than be responsible for fixing it if something gets broken.

Are computers a necessary tool for teaching math, science, arithmetic? No, probably they are just a distraction. Are they an interesting study and means to create and explore in their own right? Yes, absolutely.

Learning to ride a bicycle... (1)

ClaudeVMS (637469) | about 6 months ago | (#47591287)

any idiot can ride a bike, but programming is a gift. just because you are part of an "underrepresented group" does not mean you can do it. there are only two groups, those who can and those who can watch... what pisses off the Jobs and Gates of the world is they can't cheap out on smart people. that's the ONLY reason they are trying so hard to get people to start coding early - CHEAP UNLIMITED LABOR!!!

Will have to cut art and music to fit it in (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#47591333)

Will have to cut art and music to fit it in

Too White For Obama ... He Will Fail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591343)

In Obama's mind, Computer Science = "White Science".

Therefore, if it passes the House, it will get a Pocket Veto by Obama.

The larger issue for Obama is to get Illegal Aliens into the U.S.A. before the November election in order to "gimp the vote"i.e. vote Democrat and win the election, the good old fashion way ... like Abe [Lincoln] did it in 1864.

Simple how the mind of Obama works. Sad that he is a President. Time to fix that.

Just one more thing, (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 6 months ago | (#47591471)

the teachers won't teach to the students.

A better question (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 6 months ago | (#47591473)

Why do we have a federal Department of Education? Is there a set of common guidelines that apply uniformly for all school districts across These United States? A set of rules, goals, and guidelines that apply to inner-city Harlem, NY as well as ultra-rural American Falls, ID? Eliminate this Department, give the money back to the States, and be done with it.

Re:A better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591617)

Its now called Common Core, but is only recent in the department's long history.

Ignoring that bit for now, I believe a lot of what the department does is education funding, not making rules. Of course that means the federal level takes its "cut" before the funding gets back to the schools/students. You also have the additional disadvantantage of the ACA (Obamacare) being partially funded by interest paid on student loans. When the ACA passed, nearly 100% of all college loans became federal loans and the interest is needed to make the ACA "deficit neutral" when it passed. If you were to get rid of that now, banks would provide those loans and the ACA would have an even bigger deficit than it does now. Student loans are not dismissable by bankruptcy because the federal government doesn't do with less money, its not private banks that forced that. They were dismissable before the feds started taking them over.

I think you could have gotten rid of it 6 years ago without too much trouble, but now its integrated into too many other things to do away with.

A bit off topic, but thought I'd give you answers to your direct questions.

278: 218 Representatives plus 60 Senators (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591479)

It takes 218 Representatives to pass a bill in the House and 60 Senators to close debate in the Senate. Therefore, the answer to the question (How Many Members of Congress Does It Take to Pass a $400 Million CS Bill?) is 278 members of Congress. You can actually manage with fewer than that if some don't vote, but that's the safest answer to the question. 278 is sufficient.

I imagine it went down like this: (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 6 months ago | (#47591515)

What if we just manufacutred criminals by making it illegal to tamper with a URL bar's contens, and then taught every kid to code!

"Genius! This thing prints money!"

-- Reform the fucking CFAA. Every kid has a million times more accessibility to coding and information than when I taught myself at age 8. If you're not coding it's either because you don't want to, or your parents are fucking daft.

Orders of Magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591751)

Lemme check: National Debt: $17 T
Program cost: $0.000 4 T

Where is the other $16 999 6 T of expenditure?

What are the proposed gains?

Who proposes this? Politicians? Techies? Techie-corporations?

Oh, I'm sorry; did my reality interfere with your politics?


'Murica! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47591813)

F*ck yeah!

" I have an idea, lets make everyone programmers, then we can demand a decent pay! "
brought to you by the american society for cashiers.

Greasy finger prints (1)

sparkeyjames (264526) | about 6 months ago | (#47591855)

That 300 to 400 Million must be just for the sanitary wipes to clean the keyboards of greasy finger prints and cheetos crumbs.

$400 million is not a trivial amount of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47592021)

It works out to more than a dollar per man, woman, and child in the USA.

Secondly, how long will the money last before additional funds are needed? If the rollout takes three years, then starting in year four the public schools will need additional funds to keep the programs they have, unless the teachers want to work for free, and the equipment and textbooks are free as well.

Smacks of a lowball type pitch, like we're accustomed to hearing from businesses ("Now you can enjoy cable TV for as low as $19.95 a month...")

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