27 September 2010

Hiring 10,000 new STEM teachers

So, the White House announced today their goal of recruiting 10,000 new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) teachers over the next two years, as a first step in recruiting 100,000 new STEM teachers over the next decade:

President Obama Announces Goal of Recruiting 10,000 STEM Teachers Over the Next Two Years

This follows the announcement last week of the Change the Equation (CTEq) program, which describes itself as a "CEO-led initiative to solve America’s innovation problem" and is focused on getting corporations to help fill the gaping holes in our K-12 STEM education. CTEq sounds rather interesting, with projects like Intel Math and FIRST Robotics, but it's also kinda disappointing that we have to rely so heavily on these external programs to fix our broken education system.

These announcements are all good news, but I don't see this helping out Computer Science education all that much.

I noted that, while "launch[ing] robotics competitions" sounded cool enough to get a mention in the White House blog's announcement for CTEq, not once did any of these White House announcements mention anything about computers or programming. It's always "math" and "science", where these terms retain their traditional meaning without expanding them to include the new sciences.
"Math & Science. Hey! We already have math and science programs in our schools. We just need more of it, right? Let's hire more teachers. We just need to keep doing what we have always been doing, only more so!"
These initiatives are a nice start, but it would be great if they did something like explicitly include computer science in what they mean by "science". The White House could do this and people would actually listen. As it is now, schools are tied to traditional definitions for math and science and will continue teaching to whatever graduation metric they have in place.

So how many K-8 STEM teachers do you think will be hired?  Something tells me that most (if not all) of this hiring will be at the high school level where, in my opinion, you've already missed the opportunity to get young students really excited about math, science and programming.

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