There was some good news today for New York City high school students interested in computers — the city’s Department of Education announced it would spend $1 million in public and private money to train 120 teachers in computer science and coding. Dozens of new computer science classes taught by newly trained teachers will open in high schools across the city next fall, and Chancellor Dennis Walcott said they would eventually expand to elementary and middle schools.
That’s exactly the kinds of hands-on exposure to real-world jobs that is lacking in thousands of school districts across the country. As the first editorial in our science and math series noted on Sunday, only 19 percent of American high school students have taken a computer science course. Many students who might have excellent coding abilities are never exposed to the subject, missing out on promising career paths.
That’s often because teachers themselves have no idea how to write a computer program. Many educators who commented on the editorial said they wanted better preparation for the math and science courses they teach.
“I know firsthand that underprepared teachers is a HUGE issue,” wrote Beth Z., a math teacher in Alaska. “We have a ‘math’ teacher right now who majored in HISTORY. How do you get people who major in mathematics to go into teaching? The job is often thankless and quite stressful. Plus, other people are always telling you how to do your job.”
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