Computer Science For All

Yesterday Mayor de Blasio announced Computer Science For All which is a ten year effort to train 4,775 NYC public school teachers on the fundamentals of computer science and how to teach it to their students. The goal of Computer Science For All is to have computer science teachers and classes in every one of the 1,700 NYC public schools within ten years.

The budget for this effort is $80mm over ten years and includes the costs to train the teachers, run the program which is the largest of its kind in the US, and a rigorous program evaluation which includes regular reporting on progress and impact.

Computer Science For All is a public/private partnership in which the City of New York​ and the NYC Department of Education is putting up $40mm and the private sector is putting up the other $40mm. The founding private sponsors of Computer Science For All are my foundation CSNYC, the Robin Hood Foundation and the AOL Charitable Foundation. To date, we have raised about 30% of the private money, we have our sights on another 20%, and we are looking for individuals, foundations, and corporations who would like to get behind this amazing effort and round out the balance of the private funds. Please reach out to me or my colleague Cindy if you are or know of an individual, foundation, or corporation capable of making a significant gift to this effort.

Teaching computer science to kids is not just about good jobs for the citizens of NYC and building the talent pool for the tech sector in NYC. It is about helping young students develop a new kind of literacy that they will need to lead successful lives in the 21st century world we live in. I called it “learning how to instruct a machine” in this blog post from a few weeks ago. Coding requires a student to deconstruct the problem they are trying to solve into small bits, think and write logically, and problem solve/debug when the instructions don’t work perfectly the first time. These are skills that are critical and transferable to other disciplines. I believe that every K-12 student should encounter the principles and fundamentals of computer science in elementary school, middle school, and high school and I am thrilled that NYC is going to ensure that its public school students get this instruction in the coming years.

If you can’t make a big contribution to the public private partnership but want to help and get involved, here are some things you can do:

  • Help support CSNYC which is NYC’s partner in this ten year effort. We will be raising the private funds, helping to shape the teacher training and curriculum development, and providing governance, evaluation and research around this effort. If you can make a donation to CSNYC, we would very much appreciate it. You can do that here.
  • Volunteer your time to help teach computer science in the NYC public schools. Here are two great ways to do that:
  • Join and attend our meetups. You can join here. And there is a big meetup on October 21 at Google where 30+ CS Ed groups/programs will be there to speak to educators and volunteers.

I will wrap this post with a video the Mayor’s office put out yesterday. It shows the City’s commitment to this effort and lays out the rationale for it. I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his courage and conviction to support Computer Science For All. I believe it will turn out to be a signature element of his equity/fairness agenda.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    THIS: “It is about helping young students develop a new kind of literacy that they will need to leave successful lives in the 21st century world we live in. “Code is a language just as English, Spanish and mathematics are.Hats off to everyone involved in ‘Computer Science for All’.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      How long before programmable things/processes become so ubiquitous, as the pivotal artefacts of daily success, that evermore abstracted coding-languages start to merge with evermore processing-class based natural-language memes ?

      1. Twain Twain

        Interesting you ask this because this was in TC recently.”By studying speech patterns, facial expressions, body gestures and physiological reactions to specific stimuli, researchers hope to amass a database of emotions they can train computers to recognize and interact with.The key challenge here is to establish a standard for what is definitively “happy,” “sad,” “angry” or another state, because right now, many apps and devices that claim to read emotions aren’t drawing from one definitive standard.”A few follow-on points:(1.) Emotions as a standardized abstracted code language hasn’t been invented yet — don’t assume W3C, Google or any of the leading universities like Stanford have solved it.The processing functionality of abstracted code language has certainly been part and parcel of computers ever since Ada Lovelace provided the set operations for the Analytic Engine back in 1842-3.Hence IFTTT (If This Then That) commands are norms. That includes all the AND / OR / NOT / ELSE IF on variable and class operations that we find in all the languages from Python to Objective-C and beyond.(2.) The language in sensors is also of the processing functionality IFTTT variant.’If watch is angled at 45 degrees and accelerometer shows increasing speed, then person is in moving vehicle and not asleep.”(3.) Modern-day Ada Lovelaces are needed to invent the standard for emotion abstracted code language. She actually wrote something back in 1843 about abstractions which explains why Big Data and AI of today is flawed.Furthermore, someone(s) somewhere in the world may have already invented even beyond an emotions standard and crafted something more powerful that would make everything easier to be integrated for coherency.@wmoug:disqus

        1. Stephen Voris

          Worth asking a linguist or three? The field does have a bit of a gender imbalance in the opposite direction of programming (not nearly as severe, though), and the topic is, well, topical – close enough to be relevant, far enough for the extra perspective to be valuable.

          1. Twain Twain

            Interesting you say this because the code standards to-date have indeed been defined by monoglots (English).They may know lots of PROGRAMMING languages but not the languages which matter for understanding the importance of emotions in code expressions.Those languages being:* the Latin ones (French, Spanish, Italian) where there’s the subjunctive tense involving emotions contingent upon time context; and* Oriental languages (Chinese, Japanese) where emotion is implicit and explicit in either the pictograph of the written character or in the homophonic sounds of the word.Incidentally, I’m a polyglot (English, Latin languages and Oriental languages) so when I design and engineer systems that also informs how I solve problems.

          2. Stephen Voris

            I, alas, am one of the monoglots (having forgotten what little Cantonese my mother taught me, and retaining a whole dos palabras of Spanish) – but I’m not so sure that lack of emotion is an issue with spoken English, at least. Rather, it’s the close-but-not-quite translation from speech to writing that loses much of the detail here: while Chinese tones are important enough at the word level that no one would think to leave them out, English tones are important at the sentence level, and thus trickier to convey (particularly in the toneless Latin alphabet it inherited).Not impossible, mind you, but easy enough to leave out – out of sight, out of mind, in a sense – when designing a new language to code in using that same Latin alphabet.

  2. Twain Twain

    As a comparison, this new curriculum came into effect in the UK last Sept:Key Stage 1 (5-6 year-olds): Children will be learning what algorithms are, which will not always involve computers. When explained as “a set of instructions” teachers may illustrate the idea using recipes, or by breaking down the steps of children’s morning routines. But they will also be creating and debugging simple programs of their own, developing logical reasoning skills and taking their first steps in using devices to “create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content”.Key Stage 2 (7-11 year-olds): Slightly older primary-school children will be creating and debugging more complicated programs with specific goals and getting to grips with concepts including variables and “sequence, selection, and repetition in programs”. They will still be developing their logical reasoning skills and learning to use websites and other internet services. And there will be more practice at using devices for collecting, analysing and presenting back data and information.Key Stage 3 (11-14 year-olds): Once children enter senior school they will be using two or more programming languages – “at least one of which is textual” – to create their own programs. Schools and teachers will be free to choose the specific languages and coding tools. Pupils will be learning simple Boolean logic (the AND, OR and NOT operators, for example), working with binary numbers, and studying how computer hardware and software work together.At all these levels, children also be study computer and internet safety, including how to report concerns about “content or contact” online.What a great time to be a kid in school learning about computers!

    1. Michael Elling

      Advanced constructs can be taught to children at very early stages by putting those constructs into the child’s perspective. To wit I taught my youngest daughter at 3 years old the ability to catch a ball by equating it to a baby. How does one “catch a baby”? They cradle it; they don’t jab out at it. Likewise at 6 years old I taught a group of 40 boys and girls how to successfully put together 3-pass combinations consistently in 4×4 soccer (er football) by simply modifying the score line. Kids like to win. They like points. So a simple dribble and score was 1 point, 1 pass and score was 3 points and 2 passes and score was 5 points. What was amazing was watching a goal-keeper or defender use boolean logic to set up a fake and pass to another player, which in turn set all the 3 players moving in a sequence to pass and get to where the ball wasn’t. Anticipating future events/outcomes is key in programming. BTW, my professional trainers from the UK insisted it couldn’t be done. Ha!

      1. Twain Twain

        Ah, your lucky daughter!When I was 3, my parents taught me to count via cards rather than with my fingers and how to play chess when I was 5. A child soon learns that 1 = pawn and isn’t as important to get as a Queen = 9 points so even if you lost all 8 of your pawns you’d still be up 1 point.The other day I read this about an AI developed at Imperial: “Unlike most chess engines in existence today, Giraffe derives its playing strength not from being able to see very far ahead, but from being able to evaluate tricky positions accurately, and understanding complicated positional concepts that are intuitive to humans.”That made me LOL. Kids have intuitions to grasp all sorts of advanced abstract concepts.

  3. laurie kalmanson


  4. Matt Kruza

    What is the delivery model? IE which teachers will teach the computer program? My hope would obviously be full-time computer / programmer instructors, but I think it reads as normal subject teachers will teach? I think its awesome that you guys are trying to do this, but it works out to $7 a year per student, and 0.03% of the annual New York city school system budget. Now if they were replacing half of the gym and art teachers, or some other subject was having their resources shifted so that $100-250 Million a YEAR was going into this, it would be much more likely to succeed. To be clear I think its a supremely awesome idea and important, just think the scale of it makes extremely unlikely to be structurally significant long–term.

  5. Mike Chen

    Congratulations! I’ve been teaching CS for 10 years at high school through graduate school levels, and believe that every K-12 student should have the opportunity. Definitely happy to help!As you mentioned in “What is Coding?” that machines are becoming an ever more important part of our lives and an ever more important part of society and the economy. I, too, think it’s happening faster than most people realize.Just as kids growing up post-iPhone expect every screen to be multitouch, kids growing up today will expect every toy/device to be programmable. Parrot mini drones, Star Wars BB-8 Droid (by Sphero), Dash & Dot robots, and Philips Hue offer glimpses into future entertainment/educational devices. LEGO (Mindstorms) used to be the monopoly in this space, now there’s a wave of well-funded startups and Kickstarter campaigns making incredible hardware.These wireless devices are becoming as ordinary to kids as touchscreens. The challenge for CS education going forward is no longer *why*, but *how* to inspire and empower kids (and the 99.9% of adults who aren’t software developers) to program them.Disclaimer: I’m co-founder of Tickle app that makes all these devices programmable from your iPhone/iPad. With Tickle, you can stream sensor data to/from devices and make your entire collection of devices smart and interactive! (see )

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve seen amazing things happen when you teach kids how to make apps for their phones. it brings it all together for them and they get super into it.

      1. Mike Chen

        Yes, the best way to get kids interested in CS is showing them how coding relates to what they love. From my experience, making games and apps gets kids interested. Teaching them how to program a drone/robot? That’ll get them (and teachers) jumping up and down in excitement 🙂

        1. Mike Bestvina

          Dude, I’m 31 and I jump up and down with excitement when I see my code working.

        2. GrahamGnall

          And I thought erector sets were cool when I was young…

  6. William Mougayar

    This would make an interesting case study in public-private partnerships. Is the joint governance and oversight of this initiative just during the 10-year deployment phase?

    1. awaldstein

      New York is great at this.I believe the High Line is one as well.

  7. creative group

    Compassionate Capitalism at it’s best. America continuing to show its greatness in the people inside it.Great endeavor which those of like minds will support.

  8. Erin

    Sigh. Jealous of your city again. How do we get this happening in our cities?

    1. fredwilson

      It takes just one person to will it to be so and a ton of perseverance and patience

      1. Mike Zamansky

        +10000 on the perseverance and patience.I would say it also needs the right champion at the right time so if I forgot to says so in my funk yesterday – chapeau.

      2. rich caccappolo

        thanks for being that person (or supporting that person or being that champion) for our city, Fred. This announcement is really great news and truly exciting to see.

  9. jason wright

    admirable.from my perspective the US has a dog eat dog culture (or at least it seems to be that way looking at it from afar), but in England getting stuff like this done is so difficult. So many agendas and so many people thinking first of defending their personal position before considering the greater good. not a progressive society – deeply factional.

  10. sigmaalgebra

    Carmen Farina, Chancellor, NYC Schools: All elementary school students will learn these skills.A middle school students will learn these skills. They will be age appropriate.So, you can say that all fifth graders graduating in New York City all have the same basic skills ……. the business community has invested their money knowing that they are going to have the employees they need in the future. Careful: The emphasis on “skills”, everyone has the same skills, is risky. Instead, need to pay a lot of attention to teaching what the heck will be useful 10, 20 years from now.A auto shop analogy: Really going to teach car water pumps, carburetors, cam shafts, rocker arms, hydraulic valve lifters, transmissions, etc. when maybe we will have electric cars that have none of those components? Better to teach, right, some fundamentals of physics and engineering. So in physics teach F = ma, I = E/R, electric fields, magnetic fields, strength of materials, stress, strain, statics, kinetics, etc. Right?So, what the heck to teach “all” fifth graders in computer science? Teaching how to swipe on an Apple, Microsoft, Samsung hand held whatever? The thing will start to be obsolete before the paint dries.I’ll point to something really, really important in computer science: The ability to read and understand technical material, and the ability to write and document clearly technical material.If my startup works and I need to hire, then I want good, hopefully quite good, proven abilities in good reading and writing of technical material, want that much more than PHP, Ruby, Rails, C, C++, Python, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, etc.Next, what the heck to teach now that will be key to a successful startup in 10, 20 years? PHP? I don’t think so. Better? Okay: Reading, writing, algebra, plane geometry, second year algebra, e.g., the binomial theorem (right, guys, combinatorics), trigonometry, solid geometry (did someone mention 3D virtual reality, 3D printing, computer aided design, robotics, movie computer based special effects, etc.?), calculus, linear algebra, F = ma, I = E/R.Sorry, but Chancellor Carmen Farina’s “skills” won’t take one very far when the first graders go for venture funding in 20 years. Better? Sure: Conceptualization, intellectual discipline, business understanding, working effectively with things that are new or nearly so.Sorry, but, by analogy, Chancellor Farina seems to want to teach “skills” with carburetors when now it’s all fuel injection and in 20 years something quite different.With Chancellor Farina’s “skills”, here’s in part what will clearly happen: Employers will just laugh at everything the Chancellor has in mind, just ignore all her “skills”, regard all her teaching as a total, absurd, time-wasting joke, and, instead, just insist on, and in the job interview test for, then recent hot topics, abilities, etc. And the successful employees will have taught themselves that material in the preceding few months or year or so, and their main advantage will be good abilities learning technical materials on their own. That much is crystal clear. Then, given that, what else should be taught? That’s the question with apparently so far no start for an answer from the Mayor or Chancellor.There’s a subtext and, maybe, another agenda: Have an army of low paid workers to do conceptually simple work punching out simple parts of applications, e.g., Web sites, apps, or whatever, using high end software development tools provided by others. These are people that otherwise NYC is afraid will be totally unemployable.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Teaching cs to kids is the same as teaching math. It’s more about learning to learn than learning any particular applied language.Also, don’t pay too much attention to skills talk. Elected officials have to mention jobs and skills 38 times per day.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Hope so.

  11. Jess Bachman

    As they should!

    1. andyswan

      Has proven to be a very effective way to make sure all parents with any sense and means send kids to private school

      1. Jess Bachman

        Well, it did wonders for my high school basketball team.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Why, exactly?

        1. andyswan

          Because people want to participate in schools with people they live around and know…. not some hodgepodge of people from who knows where.Kindergartners are TRANSFERRING busses on a 50 minute ride to and from school. One got lost in the shuffle for a few hours.I don’t want my child going to school with kids whose parents don’t care. I want my kids going to a school where parents show up for the games, plays, and help them with homework at night.In other words…I want my kids in a culture of high expectations, high support and high intelligence.Mostly though I want my kids in a school where EXCELLENCE is the primary driving factor…not skin color compositions.So you have two options: Move just outside of the county (which is extremely common) and go to the good public schools there, or pay up for private school that can control its offering.

          1. LE

            In other words…I want my kids in a culture of high expectations, high support and high intelligence.100% correct. That is actually one of the benefits of attending a private school. At least from my experience. The attitude is just different. Same with a top college. The collective group, either because of the fact that they worked hard to get accepted, or were typically raised a certain way, (to value education and getting ahead) greatly increases the seriousness and attention of the entire student body. And that is very motivating. There is a slim to none % of slackers. The majority of the students are driven to succeed. This is one of the things that people often miss when talking about education. It’s not just the teachers and the classroom or the curriculum. Very importantly it’s the entire makeup of the student body.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            “Kindergartners are TRANSFERRING busses on a 50 minute ride to and from school. One got lost in the shuffle for a few hours.” You had me here.But you lost me here: “Mostly though I want my kids in a school where EXCELLENCE is the primary driving factor…not skin color compositions.”Why should WHO attends the school and HOW they get there have anything to do with the “primary driving factor?” Unless you believe that you have to be from a certain neighborhood in order to strive for excellence…My kid currently goes to our public primary school, the population of which is overwhelmingly low income (because nearly all the not-low-income people in my town are racist and send their kids to private school). Guess who are the most involved and engaged parents that I see there? The low income ones.Just because someone lives next door to you doesn’t mean they are a stellar person or parent. Plenty of unfortunate things go on behind closed doors in your nice gated community. You don’t truly know anyone and their neighborhood doesn’t automatically make them the “right kind of people.”

          3. andyswan

            You missed the point. I didn’t say my neighborhood is “better people”. I said I know them. I like them. That’s who I want my kids in school with. I want to make that choice…not some committee of idiots who is deciding based on a color wheel.So we went to schools and visited. We went with the school where the kids seemed most committed to excellence. Where the teachers weren’t loafing around in jeans and sweatshirts. Where the attitude exuded excellence and the parents were successful people.Public schools didn’t like us dropping by to check things out during a normal school day. Private schools encouraged it.It’s paid off so far. I hear nothing but horror stories from people with kids in public school here. They’re learning math by drawing frogs jumping from lilly pad to lilly pad of varying distances. They’re learning idiotic subjects that won’t matter to them at all.Those parents, like most we know… pull their kids to the next county over or into private school within one year of moving here. It happens every time.Sorry— you’ll have to find someone else that wants to sacrifice their child’s education at the alter of equality.

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            My point is that a school’s commitment to excellence doesn’t have anything to do with who’s being bussed in or not. If a low income community in your county had the *best* performing public school in your state, would you move to that neighborhood in order for your kid to attend that school? Would you agree to have your kid bussed to that school?

          5. andyswan

            I don’t know if I would move to that area… it depends on a lot of other factors. School isn’t the only reason I choose a place to live.But yes….if a public school in a low income area had a commitment to excellence and was demonstrating results that were better than other options, I would absolutely enroll my kids there (and take them to school myself). There were plenty of those kinds of options in the city I grew up in.But that’s not the case here. Here their STATED priority is diversity. That’s the number one issue for the school system! Achieving diversity! Not excellence. That’s reason enough to avoid their system.

  12. Marissa_NYx

    Congrats. What an achievement ! Our kids will be the winners.Please please encourage the state to train teachers to teach entrepreneurship alongside coding skills. They are twins. Parents want kids to be taught business & entrepreneurship. Put the two together to help kids develop learning skills for life.You’ve endorsed this mission, I’d be happy (now that my team & I have relocated to Boston) to volunteer to help make this happen.

  13. JamesHRH

    Congratulations on getting to this point and best of luck on closing your raise!

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Heard about this on NPR this morning 🙂 It’s really exciting and I’m so happy for everyone who’s been working so hard on it. I have mixed feelings about the fact that it required private funds in order to happen, but I’m glad it happened.

  15. Rob Underwood

    I want to call out, thank, and congratulate the individuals behind CSNYC who made this happen — Cindy, Michael, Kelsey, Leigh Ann, Sarah, Evan, Tarika, Eugene, Tarika, Doug, Scott, Hope, Pedro, and Fred. These folks are incredible.I also wanted to really encourage folks, especially folks who live in NYC, to volunteer. It’s really important. You can volunteer to teach kids code through programs like Scripted and TEALS as Fred mentions. Additionally, nearly every school could also use help fixing up old laptops, getting their printers to work, and generally with the IT needed to make this happen. There is work to be done advocating for this cause – making the case, – in communities through at the cities at Community Boards, at CECs, even at Sunday church breakfasts. There is fundraising work to be done not only for teacher training but a whole host of school needs. Perhaps most crucially there is help needed with mentoring and apprenticeships.It’s up to each of us to make this happen. Folks like Mike Zamansky and Fred have gotten the ball rolling, the flame lit. That’s great. It’s on us now to take what’s been started and run with it.A sampling of ways to volunteer:- ScriptEd: TEALS:…- NYC Service:…- CodeBrooklyn (the effort the Brooklyn BP and I kicked off to increase the demand for and interest in CS in Brooklyn public schools):…- iMentor:…I know there is a lot of focus this year on generating interest in coding during CSEd week (December 7 to 13) — a great way to get started on your volunteering journey is to volunteer at a school to lead an “Hour of Code.”If you work at a corporation you might encourage your company to direct its volunteering towards this effort — many companies do a “day of service” and/or require 40 hours of volunteering a year. A great organization based in Brooklyn for companies that want to direct their volunteering to CS to partner with is NPower, who is doing more work to help organize volunteers interested in helping with coding in schools.Thank you Cindy, Michal, Fred, and everyone at CSNYC. Now it’s our collective responsibility to get it done.

  16. Boris Wertz

    Congrats, Fred, and thank you for leading this initiative – I hope many cities will follow suit!

  17. JLM

    .This is a triumph for capitalism.The money that the private sector is putting up is clearly the product of successful capitalistic endeavors while the public sector’s money is tax money which is the product of the sweat of the brow of workers. [Channeling Lenin this morning, y’all. You, workers. Unite, dudes.]It is important to remember that neither the City of New York nor the NYC Dep’t of Ed has an oil well in their backyard. Their money is YOUR money.A good idea coupled with money is not enough. It also requires leadership — let me throw in experienced, principled, honest as modifiers — to ensure that the money is expended in accordance with a plan, that the plan has accountability, and that there is a measurable outcome.A lot of money gets spent by governments on “ideas” that turn out to have been “good” ideas but which were compromised by a flawed execution or a basis in total bullshit.My favorite candidate is the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program which was nothing more than a couple of words scribbled on an index card when it was announced. It purports to be getting ready to — fixing to — get ready to get ready to — fixing to — get ready to teach some kids carpentry.As if there were no high schools or community colleges teaching carpentry; or, there were any jobs in carpentry currently going unfilled. [Carpentry is low hanging fruit ever since Jesus took up a hammer. What do you think those illegal immigrants are doing?]If one were to call it “smoke and mirrors” that would be lending to it more substance than it deserves. Still, it was a good idea. It died of no leadership and the normal crowd of predictable blood suckers who all get in line when the Federal tit is sugared and presented for a bit of corrupt suckling.The other thing is that there has to be a destination at the end of the pipeline and this is where the private sector should be involved again. Where are all these little geniuses going to work? That should be figured out now and the channels developed now.There is nothing worse than a bunch of unemployed poets because somebody forgot to tell the English majors that the want ads were a little light on poets. Apologies to all working poets. This should have been discussed before they took on a lot of debt to study English.Last point — this is also a great bulwark against unemployment in the same time period. Over the next ten years, unemployment is going to be beaten by developing skills, not by funding more unemployment payments.These young folk should be adequately prepared to find, work, and keep jobs. Bit of character development, job finding, job keeping skills would be a fine idea.Well played, Fred Wilson and all the folks who have this program real. Well played!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Twain Twain

      I was almost that unemployed poet! Eng. Lit & the Arts spoke to my soul whereas the sciences spoke to my mind.The thing about coding folks may not be aware of is that it can be as creative and poetic and soulful as any work of art on a canvas, any couplet, any harmony, any craftwork we make.There’s the side of it which is purely technical (the grammar bit) and once we’ve grasped that, we have free reign to deconstruct and recompose it — just like poetry does in the English language cannon.Big Bang: a poem==============.That dot, so distant,So ephemeral, sparksWithin some cocoon of self,Asleep asunder we beA wonder of what may flyWhen we chase with all furyThat memoryHope?Of a Big BangWhere we awokeConscious and free andwhole.Bound by neither body, boxNor binary “to be (1) or notto be (0)”,“We” before ProbabilityBecame pseudo-proxy code forus —Our brains,That Pascalian roll of dice,Descartes CON…….structPlaying tricks on how we seethe truth,Separating us from stories,Society,Language,Cultures of context,Intelligence of Us.For that dot survivesThrough dawns from dreams,Into reality of digital dialogue,Expands,Amasses,Atoms,And will soon becomeThe white light no blackhole of ProbabilityCan obscure.Such a spectrum of lightBrings brighter futuresBefore awoken eyes andminds.Oh dot, we see thee ……..We fly to catch your wonder,With hands and hearts open.Our future is with you.IT starts with a .—————————-(C) Twain 2015.

      1. JLM

        .Fabulous poem (said the chap who won the 5th grade Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic school poetry poetry contest with a poem written/highly edited by his older sister and mother).They came from the East with God’s grace deep in heartFirmly determined to do their holy partThey brought His Word to the Godless WestIn martyred glory now the restThe seed of faith they planted deepAnd now its graces we shall reap.I think the tipping point was the pandering, religious theme plus the paucity of real competition. Still, even at that age I was a word smith. Haha.JLM (more than a half century ago)YOU would not have been an unemployed poet. I would have and therefore I studied engineering.Well played!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Twain Twain

          Ack, you’re too kind! Thanks.Periodically, I prose when not engineering systems and doing strategy.That or I go sit in a gallery and get the old sketchbook and pencils out.I completely agree with you, btw: “A good idea coupled with money is not enough. It also requires leadership — let me throw in experienced, principled, honest as modifiers — to ensure that the money is expended in accordance with a plan, that the plan has accountability, and that there is a measurable outcome.” — JLM.

  18. anshublog

    may be we should call it Computer Sports or Computer Art or “Making with Computer” classes – I think words like science and engineering scare some non-STEM people. You can code and even build stuff by simply thinking of computers & code as lego blocks.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Or even process-literacy skills development ?

  19. Rick

    Fred – that’s good stuff. I’ve been reading your blog for many years now, and you’ve been backing coding skills for as long as I can remember. I wish more people understood the transferability to other skills that coding can develop (I myself constantly complain about the lack of critical thinking skills in people these days, and I believe that coding skills develops that part of the brain as well).All that said, I am going to put in a shameless, blatant plug for a new website I’m working on. It is a work-in-progress, but it has a good list of coding resources, many of which are free. I’ve used almost all of these resources myself to some extent. Let me know what you think, and I hope others will check it out and “like” it. I’m calling it “Rix Resources”. The URL is:….

    1. Rick

      OK, and now I just realized that the page that’s most relevant to this discussion is actually a subpage on my new site:….

  20. Douglas Crets

    Fred, please let me know if you want to help or can recommend to me people to work with) to bring developers from the US over to Hangzhou, China and Hong Kong, to do code weeks with our students in Mainland and Hong Kong on any sabbaticals they may be on. We are creating a system and a series of events that help secondary school and primary school kids learn product development and coding throughout their education. And it is not limited to any one school. We are using the two schools we manage to open that access to others. Hangzhou, as you may know, is the headquarters city for Alibaba and some other major Internet companies. We have connections with these companies and are developing several tracks that are inclusive of CS, coding, and the humanities.

    1. LE

      Why exactly should be we be concerned with educating people in China vs. in our own country? What about people in China helping people in China? Why should we care about China of all places?

      1. Douglas Crets

        Because when these kids grow up they will be working with your kids when they grow up. If you need any other indications of what direction the collaborative global economy is heading, pay attention to what the leaders of the largest Chinese internet companies tell Obama when they visit this week.

        1. LE

          We disagree on this issue. Seems to me that same idea works with many children that actually live in the US vs. in China. Why not take valuable resources and send them to Philly or Baltimore or Detroit? Some benefit can always be justified if you don’t look at the opportunity cost of a particular decision.China (as many countries in Asia) has a long established history of learning from us and then competing with us using knowledge that we gave them. Or visiting and copying us. This all stems from academics and the way that they think.

          1. Douglas Crets

            The error in your thinking is that thousands of kids in China are already attending some of the best universities in America. I have no disagreement or agreement with you. I am simply voicing the reality of the coming change in hegemonic political and economic structures. It is a shared world. It will be even more so soon enough. Have a great day.

  21. greyenlightenment

    The average public school teacher has an IQ around 100. Good luck bringing them up to speed on the intricacies of computer science. Failure to understand the limitations imposed by biological reality leads to unrealistic expectations.

  22. pointsnfigures

    I used to know the people at the CME Foundation. Not connected now. They do educational efforts. http://www.cmegroupfoundati

  23. pointsnfigures

    A part of me thinks that a tech firm like Facebook, Google, or Microsoft should just set up a private school system. They have a vested interest in training the next gen techies. Would be easier for them to do it themselves.

    1. Douglas Crets

      Zuckerberg already does this by proxy, and in several ways. There was the donation to the New Jersey public schools system. Then he also “mentors” dozens of high school students in California.

      1. pointsnfigures

        It’s going to take a dedicated effort NOT using the public school system. You can’t believe how much corruption there is in the public school system. A series of Facebook schools with dedicated teachers and curriculum would be better.

        1. Anne Libby

          “Facebook schools”? Horrifying thought.You and I are both alums of public schools…something went right there. (heh presumably.)

          1. pointsnfigures

            It isn’t. I would never send my kid to a public school today if I could afford private. I pulled my kids out of what were supposedly very good public schools for private school. Last night, my wife was at a thing on public education in Illinois. You cannot believe the amount of graft, corruption and people on the take that are built into the system. That excludes the teachers unions. Public school in America is a total disaster, even in good neighborhoods. It can’t be fixed by nibbling on the edges. It certainly can’t be fixed with more spending. It needs to be rethought, and the current system entirely dismantled.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Public schools in good neighborhoods around here do great.There is some corruption in urban public schools, but it’s also a jobs program. Which is partly why that Korean-American lady ran into resistance in DC. It’s also why the new hotness is having more diversity in the teaching ranks, while the old hotness was to have more super-smart, TFA types.

          3. PhilipSugar

            See my long rant above. New York state pays top administrators (defined as above $130k a year) $661mm per year just in salary, no benefits, no support staff which they each have. That’s $2B a year. Name me how many tech companies pay that?

          4. pointsnfigures

            My wife just took a look at the state of Illinois and the way it finances education with the Illinois Policy group. It’s 100% corrupt. It’s so bad that when they publish how much is spent on kids, they intentionally understate it. They use accounting numbers, not the actual economic numbers. Each level of bureaucracy has its own way of taking graft. We can no longer nibble at the edges of public education, or try to “fix” it. Blowing it up and starting over is the only way we can fix it.

          5. pointsnfigures


        2. Dave Pinsen

          Facebook schools would succeed the same way Facebook does: by accepting only the smartest applicants.Focussing on education is way for the superrich to assuage their guilt about inequality. But only a relatively small percentage of poor kids have the aptitude to climb the economic ladder via education, and most of those kids are autodidacts anyway.Tighter labor markets via moderated immigration would do more to improve the work prospects of poor kids than any new education fad. And yet Zuck would rather import more foreign workers.

          1. pointsnfigures

            In primary grades, who’s going to be the most successful? Nobody knows.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            IQ tests give them a big hint, which is why elite primary schools test applicants. Heck, even elite preschools do.

          3. pointsnfigures

            Flip side is you get the high achievers out-and into a different environment allowing more resources to flow to the kids who need it.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Zuck’s $100 million for Newark schools accomplished zilch except lining the pockets of education consultants: “Everyone’s getting paid and Raheem still can’t read”. And at the same time, Zuck’s advocates for mass immigration while the black youth unemployment rate is 32%.

        1. Douglas Crets

          Note that nobody in this thread was making any claims about what it had accomplished.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Why did you mention it if you didn’t think accomplished anything?

          2. Douglas Crets

            I mentioned it because someone said that Facebook should make its own education system. So I simply said Zuckerberg already was making its own investments. That’s not a comment on accomplishment. It’s a statement of fact. I think you should read for comprehension. I am not sure why you think my mention of it only would have been relevant if the investment had accomplished something. I bought a pair of shoes the other day, but I suck at running. So, by your logic, should I have not bought the shoes?

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Doubling down on obnoxiousness seems an odd tack for an evangelist.

          4. Douglas Crets

            I’m not an evangelist. And I have no desire to have a conversation with you. You’re rude and I’m not at all interested in your desire to correct me.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Your Disqus profile identified you as a “developer evangelist” for Microsoft before you just changed it. You are the one who has been rude here. I only pointed out your obnoxiousness the second time you took that tone with me.

          6. Douglas Crets

            And the truth is still that I am not an evangelist. You were rude to begin with, when you didn’t read my comments carefully and then questioned my right to even answer the question simply because you didn’t think I held a conversation correctly. Now, please leave me alone.

          7. Dave Pinsen

            Oh, piss up a rope. I never questioned your “right to even answer the question”.

          8. Douglas Crets

            This conversation is over. Leave me alone.

          9. Dave Pinsen

            You extend the “conversation” you declare over every time you reply.

          10. Douglas Crets

            Because it’s a civilized person’s way of ending things. So, again, stop talking to me. Leave me alone. You are rude and persistently so. Good day.

          11. Dave Pinsen

            There is nothing civil about your responses here, just a petty desire to have the last word.

          12. Douglas Crets


    2. Mike Zamansky

      Sign me up

  24. Jessie Arora

    Training and supporting the teachers is vital to the success of initiatives like this. It is unfortunate to see some of the negative comments about educators in this community. My organization,, works with pre-service and current teachers to demystify CS and introduce computational thinking to kids as young as 6 and 7. We have seen amazing transformations in educators with no CS/tech backgrounds. Improving public education is a huge challenge that we cannot achieve without supporting and empowering educators. Fred– If you know K8 schools that need help with CS/coding professional development, we are here to help.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      “It is unfortunate to see some of the negative comments about educators in this community.”It’s all the teachers’ fault, haven’t you heard? ;-)It’s damned hard to improve public education when one of our two major political parties is openly intent upon taking it out of existence. Power to you, Jessie.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Um – two of our two major political parties.

        1. Jessie Arora

          Mike- I’m inspired by how you’ve been fighting the good fight for so many years. (I’m working on Embark Labs with Brian Van Dyck, who remembers your collaboration on Google CAPE fondly.)

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Fair enough 🙂

      2. PhilipSugar

        “It’s damned hard to improve public education when one of our two major political parties is openly intent upon taking it out of existence.”I think these type of comments are why politics suck and people just hate. You really think this???Really????Disappointed. I always thought you were not just a hater.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

…So, Mike Z corrected me and rightly so. It’s not just one political party; it’s both.I’m an equal opportunity hater – both parties suck 😉 But one appeals to me much less than the other.I’ve been married to an educator since 1993 who taught in NYC when we were first together, then in San Fran, and now in NJ. I’ve had a front row seat to how things have changed. I have formed opinions.I don’t see exactly why what I said makes me a “hater” though? When people are pushing for vouchers to attend private schools, they are striving to eliminate public schools. They are not interested in putting more resources into improving our public schools. I tend to view that as coming from one of the parties in particular, sure.

          1. Mike Zamansky

            Well look at Arne Duncan’s DOE – pro charter, pro testing – How about National Charter School week?Or how about Cuomo – he’s as anti public school as one could imagine.

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            You’re so right.

          3. PhilipSugar

            With the average salary rate of the 4,140 public school New York administrators being $178k before pension benefits which nearly double this, I think everybody should be against the existing system. See my comments and the data in the thread.

          4. Mike Zamansky

            Yes but the powers that be don’t rail against the admin salaries or benefits – it’s all about firing us horrible teachers.

          5. PhilipSugar

            On this we agree completely and it is why you should want the system overturned.The vast majority of teachers are hardworking dedicated professionals who have a passion to teach kids.If you have somebody that doesn’t want to learn whose fault is that? Not the teacher.Are there any bad teachers? Sure. Does tenure and the union make it hard to get rid of them? Yes. Could we do better?? Yes, but that is a relatively small problem.In a private world if I was running an education company I would not be paying administrators over $300k a year. Certainly not 4,000 of them.The way you keep people down is to keep them focused them on the small problems instead of the structural issues. If I deal with a small minded person in HR that is what I do, let them spin brain cycles on irrelevant things instead of thinking about the big picture.So you get the standardized tests. That’s the easy way if you’re the administration. It focuses people on the small shit instead of the big picture which is much harder.Why is it that inner-city schools from bad neighborhoods underperform?? Might it be because the kids come from families that don’t value education and therefore that is why they live in a bad inner-city neighborhood?? Now that is a tough message. Its not one you get to helicopter in on and feel good about. But if you say that is the case then you can address the issue. Hey, maybe there should be charter schools where people that really want to be in school and have to prove it can thrive.Does that mean the rest get even shittier schools?? Yes, but maybe that’s what it takes to save those that want saving. I always say I don’t want to sell religion I want to sell bibles to the converted. Ouch, that is a tough message. I’ve been called a racist for saying that at a U.S. Democratic Senator’s conference, one that might become President. But is that racist?? I didn’t say anything about race.Those are the big picture issues I like to talk about, but everybody likes focusing on the small, because its much more comfortable squabbling about small shit versus having tough conversations.

          6. Mike Zamansky

            Quick note – tenure is just a right to due process – a good administrator can get rid of a bad teacher if they actually document it. Also many administrators grant tenure to bad teachers – who’s fault is that? Certainly not the union (which I also have no love for but understand that it’s needed).I’ve seen bad teachers fired and only a couple of bad teachers milk the system to drag out the process. More often bad teachers remain because administrators aren’t willing to do the work.On the other hand, I’ve seen many good teachers saved from corrupt administrators due to this due process (and I’m one of those teachers).My union is as horrible as the administration but I wish people would stop blaming the teachers – blame leadership on both sides.

          7. PhilipSugar

            Agree completely.

          8. PhilipSugar

            Sorry last point. The reason why you need those is that schools are a government run monopoly. I have built and sold three software businesses. If I had a reputation as a corrupt lying asshole I would never have gotten anywhere. You can see on this board my greatest legacy is those I’ve hired and what they’ve gone on to do, and I clearly am in second place to you on this point. Its so important to me my best doers have always made more than me. Its so important to me that when a $4B company bought mine and had a tough year and said no raises I was willing to take a 7% pay cut to get my people raises.If an administrator knew if they fired you you had the ability to go to another school right next door and take those kids with you (Your reputation is so good even I know of you) and then that administrator would lose their job there might be a little bit of a difference in the balance of power. I’ve taken over divisions of companies that have had assholes for leaders. They were fired. And as I said go doers always have opportunities, leaders that have not been successful?? Not as much.

          9. PhilipSugar

            My mother met my father when she was getting her Masters in Mathematics from OSU as a part of a NASA grant to improve high school math. (she was a calculus teacher) My brother is widely voted the best professor (Robotics) at ASU, and he has done so much research he doesn’t even have to teach but does for the love of students.Just because one wants vouchers does not mean one doesn’t want to educate the public. That is the goal here right?? Not just to build up institutions.My companies have been acquired by large public companies. The thing I notice most about going from under 50 to over 5,000 employees is how much waste there is. It boggles my head at the stupid stuff that goes on.As I have said for the actual doers, the teachers, the firefighters, the police I have total support. For the giant bloated bureaucracies that have built up around them??? Well I am a hater there.New York state paid base salaries to administrators last year (defined as making more than $130k a year) in excess of $661mm dollars…This is salary alone. That is for people that do not teach one single class. This doesn’t include benefits or bonuses. It doesn’t include all of the people that work under them that make less than $130k a year, its just the top people.Now unfortunately I have to send my kids to private school because the middle school and high school aren’t good, but they attended the elementary school. The private school is great and one of their main source of teachers is those that are fed up with the “public” school, they get the pick of the crop even though they pay less. So again as Mike says its not about the money. I agree with that.So does this mean we need to put more money into that “public” school??? No. You know why??? Because it will get flushed down a rat hole.So when somebody says I think there has to be a better way, its not because they are evil, its because they truly think: Wow, why is it I can send my kids to a school where they have to compete with other private schools (and they do) but if I can’t afford it my kids get no choice. Its not really evil its actually altruistic.Now the other choice is to try and bring the public schools up. How has that worked?? It hasn’t and its the fault of the administrations, they are the one that are going to lose their jobs not the teachers.When big institutions are threatened they try and convince the doers to get worried, but in fact those that should be worried are the institutions themselves. The doers will always have a place.If you are a great programmer you can always get a job, if you are a manger?? Not so much.There is a wide joke around here that I don’t actually do anything and I do not count as one of our employees because I don’t do any actual work. And that is TRUE. When other top management people hear this they cringe, they say you can’t let people talk that way, but it is true.After this long diatribe I think you are right, if our parties want to take out massive bureaucracy I am for it.

          10. Kirsten Lambertsen

            So, anyway, I’m not a hater ;-)The public education “haters” have done a great job over the last 15 years, however, of making it nearly unbearable.I just don’t subscribe to the idea that capitalism is the answer to everything, that everything should be done for profit. Lots of things, sure. But not everything. I think education is one of those things that shouldn’t necessarily be operated at a profit and shouldn’t be overseen by solely corporations and the very wealthy.

          11. pointsnfigures

            Competition is the answer. Even in non-profits.

          12. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I’m not disagreeing with this, unilaterally. But I also don’t think it can be boiled down so simply. Competition for what? Competition for funds? That has worked out badly.This is just on my mind right now because my very bright 8 year old *hates* school already. And I mean hates! As a lifelong lover of learning, it’s excruciating to see him being turned off to learning :(Just last night I was contemplating homeschooling (with my non existent spare time) using my own hand-made gamification approach.So, I am with you that I think we need to rethink the whole enchilada. Like, the *whole* enchilada.

          13. pointsnfigures

            More like use the principle of individual liberty. Take what we spend on education, give people individual vouchers. Public school systems would set a price for their services, as would private. New private schools might set up shop. People would be free to choose between them. The competition between the varied schools would increase the “output”. The money we spend would be far less and we would have a better educational system because of it. Markets work that way. Health insurance should be that way too BTW.

          14. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I guess I just see that shaking out as a class system. Schools will price themselves out of voucher range, attracting only the wealthy. Because they charge more, they can offer more stuff, a “better education.What happens when your school of choice is full because admissions are driven by nepotism? Then you have to go to the crappy school.I think we as a society should decide together that we will make certain things the very best they can be and make sure they’re available to everyone and run them at a loss.Same with healthcare.

          15. pointsnfigures

            Not if the alternative is going out of business. On health care, if insurance companies could compete across state lines, and it wasn’t so regulated, you’d see A LOT more companies offering a lot more choice. Auto insurance used to be expensive. Now it’s cheap. Health insurance would do the same.

          16. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Throw health insurance in there, for sure. It needs an overall. Burn it down.

          17. PhilipSugar

            See my point to MikeZ. This is so true.

          18. PhilipSugar

            As an entrepreneur I’m surprised you equate spending to quality. That is the greatest mistake of bureaucracies. That is big company attitude.My little division spends ten times less than my sister division in Europe. Our output is ten times higher. Literally, they can’t figure it out.Spending != quality

          19. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I’m saying all kids, across the board, deserve the very best education we can provide. I’m sure I can get a quality tonsillectomy in a grass hut somewhere, too. But is that what we want for America?

          20. PhilipSugar

            That’s the exact issue. I’ll take the tonsillectomy in a grass hut from a great doctor versus a butcher in the nicest clean room you’ve ever seen.My brother won the GM Robotics contest with kids from the inner city Barrios of Phoenix (I paid for the van and hotel to drive them to LA), he won the Best Buy Robotics contest with kids from ASU Polytechnic.Think the kids from the private schools in Cambridge, Gross Point, etc where better funded?? How about the kids from MIT, Stanford, etc??Best != Most expensive.What bothers him the most?? The administration. If you run your own small company all you worry about is the quality of your doers. If you are part of a big, fat, high paid company all you care about is staying there and dealing with the other administrators.

          21. PhilipSugar

            So see contemplating homeschooling is no different than sending them to private. You are pulling them out of the bureaucracy. My son hated school as well, now he loves it because he goes to a school that used to be the Naval Academy feeder school. He gets his choice of classes and loves learning through examples of ancient battles (I know a bit strange, but they learn Latin to understand what it would be like to be in a Roman Legion, etc), math and trig to understand artillery, etc.I have this choice. Few do, but that school spends less per student than the public school. Even the principle teaches two classes.

          22. Kirsten Lambertsen

            My son would love that 🙂

          23. PhilipSugar

            The teachers have more fun as well.Here is a note I got last week from a teacher:Hello Mr. and Mrs. Sugar,I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with Phil’s knowledge of history. In Latin class last week, we were learning about Roman history, and Phil raised his hand a few times to share some additional information about the topic throughout the class,and I was just amazed at how much he knew. It makes a history teacher’s heart glad to have a student with a natural love of history.

          24. PhilipSugar

            And notice from my note that is a history teacher teaching Latin, they have cross functional teachers because that is the best way to keep things fresh, they don’t just let a history teacher teach his one class for thirty years and just become stale, they don’t have a union that forbids them from doing this (although as I said I think the union is a natural response to a terrible administration)

          25. PhilipSugar

            I agree with pointsnfigures. Competition. Fair competition. I think unbridled capitalism is wrong. There should be a $15/hr minimum wage, there should be a tax on stock trading, we should have a tax for the huge banks that borrow at the Fed Funds rate, there should be rules where if you cheat you go to jail, we should have rules if you have to restate earnings you forfeit all of your salary above a certain rate, we need environmental laws, not ones that redistribute or favor the incumbent (grandfathering), we should not have a carried interest tax credit, there should be an estate tax over $10mm, there shouldn’t be loopholes for trusts.I could go on and on. But throwing more money at the government is not the right way. If I had my way it would be 50% less.

          26. PhilipSugar

            BTW: Go to that official New York State website I cited, the admin numbers in the last fifteen years. The number in 2000 that made over $130k???? $32mm versus $661mmIf I widen it to $90k for inflation its comes out $341mm versus $661mmSo for the administrators for the last 15 years who have doubled their rake, I don’t think its been so unbearable.This is what you want to perpetuate??

          27. Kirsten Lambertsen

            No, I’ve stated that things need to change. I don’t want to perpetuate anything in particular. But corporatization of public education is not the answer. I certainly don’t think that’s the only alternative. I don’t believe the profit motive has a place anywhere in education or healthcare.Where we just might agree is that the overreaching involvement of the Federal Gov’t over the last 15-20 years (in order to line the pockets of cronies) is a primary problem.I actually wouldn’t care how much we spent on education if it was incredibly stupendously awesome. Though, I’d rather see teachers get paid more vs administrators and the new, unnecessary layer of “managers” that have been injected into the structure.We’ve increased military spending by 45% since 9/11. Does Spending != quality apply there?

          28. PhilipSugar

            If I wanted a poster child proof case for where spending != quality it would be the military between the VA and their “advanced” weapons systems, I’d say they beat out education. But that is not the point.Somehow you have to split things up and take the bureaucracy out of education. There is no way administration should be more than 20% of the expense.If you read my comments I never said anything about corporatization or profit.I did say however people should have a choice and those choices should affect the employment of people that don’t get picked.

          29. PhilipSugar

            Sorry I mis-calculated. For the 4,140 administrators in New York they made a total of $738mm in salary for an average salary of $178k dollars.I’d say the public schools are overseen by the very wealthy already. That does not include pension benefits which probably doubles this figure.Do you think private companies would pay these rates????

          30. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Yes, I do. I know of many that do. First one that comes to mind is the company that bought the company that bought my company. They’re paying the man that ran his company into the ground a total package of $800k this year.I am also good friends with a school superintendent in NJ. He is comfortable but not anywhere near as wealthy as anyone I know at the VP and above level in tech. I don’t imagine many CEO’s in any industry make under $150k a year.Graft and corruption are as profligate in private companies and public as they are in gov’t.Corruption isn’t the argument to use to justify privatization of the school system.

          31. PhilipSugar

            There are not 4,140 CEO’s in the New York State public school system.There are not 4,140 CEO’s of major companies in the U.S. There is a reason they call it the Fortune 500.

          32. pointsnfigures

            +1000 to Phil.

  25. JimHirshfield

    Hit up your pals at MSFT for a contribution to this effort.”Microsoft to spend $75 mln to boost computer science in schools”…

  26. pointsnfigures

    http://www.kellogg.northwes… This will be very eye opening to the AVC community. It also happens to be Gary Becker’s last paper. He published in 7 different decades. Tremendous economist when it came to transferring economics to human capital. I think he would agree with the effort to educate children in coding, but he might have designed it differently.