I see that PC Magazine is covering the recent report from the CSTA on high school computer science curriculum in the US. The CSTA report is available here and I highly recommend reading it. Computer Science teachers know most of the stuff in the report but getting others to see it and do something about it seems to be all but impossible.
I talked to the dean of a college at a major university who told me that the head of his state’s department of education will not even answer his mail or phone calls to talk about the issue of K-12 computer science education. He’s had some luck getting others in education to at least start talking about certification of teachers so that they can create a program of studies in computer science education. Do you know that in most states there is no special certification for computer science? In some states you have to be certified in business but that certification covers a lot more accounting than it does computer science? In other states, thought not many, you have to be certified in math – again without any real requirement that you know computer science. Yes, it’s that bad.
Now we can argue if computer science should be part of the core college prep curriculum (I think it should) but in many areas it is not even a college prep elective. In a lot of places its vocational education. Now I think that having a computer science program in vocational education is a great thing but I don’t think we should be keeping college bound kids from taking it.
Texas is now increasing the number of years of math and science that are required for high school graduation. But right now Computer Science cannot be used to meet those requirements. This is a disaster in my opinion. If you live or teach in Texas you should know that the TCEA (and CSTA) are behind a movement to contact your local state Board of Education representatives and urge them to include computer science in these requirements. If this doesn’t happen then the number of students who can actually take a computer science course is going to fall through the floor. This is hardly what a state as invested in hi-tech as Texas can afford to see happen.
The US really needs to get behind computer science education and it really has to start earlier. But unless the business community gets on the bandwagon I doubt much progress can be made.