Some Big News On CS Education

I am driving up to the Bronx this morning to attend Mayor de Blasio’s speech on the NYC public schools. As the NY Times reported last night, in his speech he will announce a big public/private partnership between the city and the private sector to train up to 5,000 teachers on computer science curriculum, from elementary school through high school. The goal is to have computer science in all 1,700 public schools in NYC within ten years. I believe that in time this effort will be recognized as a signature piece of Mayor de Blasio’s equity/fairness agenda.

I will have a longer post on this tomorrow with details on how people can get involved in this effort. But since the news broke last night, I wanted to at least acknowledge it on AVC today.

As you all know, this is something I’ve been working on for over five years now. This work has been inspired and supported by so many people who won’t be acknowledged and won’t be credited today and in the weeks and months to come as this effort gets rolled out. People like Mike Zamansky, who is the godfather of CS Ed in the NYC public schools, and all the folks in the Department Of Education and City Hall, some of whom left a couple years ago, and some of whom arrived a couple years ago, and all my colleagues and board members at CSNYC, are the reasons this is happening. And since they won’t be on a stage or in a news article, I want to acknowledge all of them here. Thanks everyone for making this happen.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Zamansky

    Thanks Fred – means a lot coming from you.

    1. Rob Underwood

      Mike and Fred, in many ways you two started this fire. Thank you both. Outstanding leadership and drive. Excited this is happening.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Of course it reinforces my theory of teachers as bluesmen :-)…

        1. Twain Twain

          TOO FUNNY!!! Before I scrolled to comments and saw yours, I’d gone to YouTube to source this.It’s old school but somehow approp for new school approaches to STEM, haha.

        2. fredwilson

          yup. you nailed it with that one.

  2. Tom Labus

    10 year implementation period. I hope we do it faster.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Yeah, that seems a long time to get this done. Ten years to put a man on the moon with 1960s tech, okay, but ten years to add a vocational subject to public schools? Why not pay a math teacher in each school extra $$ to learn enough computer programming over the summer that he can teach students. I’m guessing the teachers union would oppose teachers w/ math backgrounds getting paid more.

      1. Tom Labus

        Yes, where is the teachers union on this one? They hated Bill Gate’s Big History

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I don’t know, but if one teacher per school can’t learn enough CS to teach it, then maybe it’s not realistic to expect most kids to learn it. Either way, it shouldn’t take 10 years to find out.

      2. Matt Zagaja

        Sometimes rocket science is easier than people science.

        1. laurie kalmanson

…”Over thirty years ago I wrote an extended essay, The Moon and the Ghetto, concerned with the troubling question of why societies so rich and capable technologically and organizationally as to be able to land a man on the moon seemed unable to deal effectively with e.g. poverty, illiteracy, slums. I argued that, while politics was part of the reason, in many cases the problem was that our scientific knowledge and technological know-how was not sufficient to point the way to a solution. The general problem of the great unevenness of human progress has not gone away. The questions explored in this seminar are, first, what lies behind the great unevenness of scientific and technological progress. And second, under what conditions does it make sense to seek a solution to a problem by trying to develop stronger know-how. Can progress be made by reorienting our innovation systems?”

          1. PhilipSugar

            The problem is many people do not want (and I mean really want and put in the effort) to get out of the ghetto.Everybody on the Moon project really wanted and put in the effort to get there.I believe in many things: $15 minimum wage, gay marriage, environmental laws enforced, tariffs against bringing in goods where the playing field is not level.But this is a fact many people don’t want to acknowledge: If you don’t want to help yourself I can’t help you.It is a fundamental difference in philosophy and in my experience it is usually held by people that have guilt and want to take others wealth to make themselves “feel” better.

    2. Rob Underwood

      See my response to William on this. I would add that we should focus less on the macro and more on the micro. We can collectively accelerate the timeline by getting involved in our local schools to volunteer. Tons of ways for tech community and others to get involved to help make this happen even quicker.

      1. Tom Labus

        It’s a great point, thanks

  3. William Mougayar

    Congratulations on this important development that’s so near and dear to you and Joanne. I’m curious why a 10-year horizon, instead of something more aggressive like 5 for example?

    1. Rob Underwood

      Given the realities and complexities of the NYC schools, 10 years is still pretty aggressive. There is a huge up front teacher training task to occur. That said, some Community Schools Districts (there are 32 in NYC), neighborhoods, or Boros themselves may give themselves more aggressive targets (both Brooklyn and Staten Island have said as much). For ALL schools, citywide, 10 years sounds right. The real question is when we can reach milestones like >50% and >90%.

    2. Matt Kruza

      See my comments above (or below.. wherever they are now). Without market based incentives change in govt. is super slow. If the jobs with computer experience were allowed to pay $10k-25k to maybe even $50k more it could be done in a few years. But, would tax payer support an extra $100M – $250M per year? Its a combination of taxpayer funding combined with lack of market incentives… I really don’t think you have to be a market / libertarian zealot to put the culpability on the lack of the market compensation forces and incentives to cause most of the challenges

      1. JLM

        .If anyone is waiting for gov’t — good luck.Remember “Your Brothers Keeper” initiative?Racial justice angle from a black President, big announcement because black unemployment was so devastating, Rose Garden, etc.Heard anything lately?This was supposed to be a signature program. A legacy builder.THAT is gov’t.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Matt Kruza

          Right. Completely agree. Now at the same time govt is needed and necessary (effective military, funding for basic R&D etc.), but often times (actually most of the time) it ineffective at cultural and behavioral change. Also, you usually need economic incentives to encourage WIDE-SPREAD change. It is easy to find SOME who will act without economic incentives, but for the preponderance to change you need a viable economic model and incentives. We agree 100% on this one 🙂

          1. JLM

            .The more I see of gov’t, the less I am convinced that gov’t can do or be trusted to day anything beyond the most basic duties enumerated in the Constitution.Borders (complete total fail), defense — not much else.The United States — the individual states — can be trusted to get done within their states what needs to be done. Look at Texas left to its own in the energy business — spectacular performance.I love my country. I hate my government. I don’t trust my President, Congress, SCOTUS.BTW, this is exactly the sentiment that Trump is tapping into and it becomes more apparent and obvious with the passage of each day.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. PhilipSugar

            I just could not agree more. The biggest fallacy that I see people have is that everybody should be great versus everybody can be great and live the good life.We should always strive to make sure everybody can be great and live the good life. The key to this sentence is the word can. If you are excluded from going to college or a trade school because of anything OTHER than ability. This is horrible. If through tremendous hard work and perseverance you are excluded this is unacceptable.If you choose not to exercise hard work and perseverance and you except to live the good live because you SHOULD be great and live the good life, then this simply is a transfer of wealth which is both unsustainable (those paying will leave) and self perpetuating (hey if my parents didn’t have to work hard and smart, why should I???)

          3. JLM

            .I am a huge proponent of affirmative action. Sounds odd coming from me.I am all about opportunity — exactly what I personally received.I am also very keen on earned opportunity — GI Bill, again, exactly what I personally received.I am opposed to equal outcomes such as the redistribution of wealth.Therein lies the friction line between liberalism and conservatism.The difference between a hand up and a hand out.That little difference is all the difference between being great and being mediocre.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. PhilipSugar

            I hate I took this political because I never comment, but this is at the bottom of the thread.I am great with extra resources to help balance the system. I.e. we need to have programs that give people the opportunity. Programs for women or minority entrepreneurs or STEM students, that is great. Chess clubs for intercity schools? Awesome.What I am against is saying we need X% of this population because they are under-represented, and that in my mind is what affirmative action stands for.

    3. fredwilson

      i don’t think we can properly train 5,000 teachers in less than that time. it takes about three years of professional development with a single teacher to get them where we need them to be. so there is a ton of work to do and it will simply take time.

      1. JLM

        .For anyone who has ever been in the training business — it always takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you initially think. There is also the issue of “mastery” v just being a noviate.Gladwell (Outliers) has it right — takes 10K hours.Good luck and Godspeed with this.BTW, there is another angle with this — there is a lot more scholarship money out there for anything science/engineering related.I was just looking at the statistics of the entering VMI class — 63% science/engineering with almost 100% receiving some form of financial aid. Of course, a lot of them are getting a complete free ride from either the Commonwealth of Va or the Pentagon but the liberal artists are nowhere near as well supported.The job front implications are so obvios as to not need commenting on.Well played!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. William Mougayar

        Good to know. I asked so you could flush it out, and you did that. Otherwise, most people will underestimate the scope of this challenge.

    4. laurie kalmanson

      it took a decade to go to the moon and back

  4. Russell

    Congrats! Hoping the folks from USV portfolio company Codecademy are reading this post today – a little request- please make the website mobile friendly! Coding is done on laptops and desktops, I get it, but for those of us who need to brush up occasionally on our javascript, css, python etc. it would be amazing to have somewhere to practice on the go. Duolingo, another USV portfolio company, seems to have figured out how to do piecemeal learning on the go. Good luck to you and to Fred – education is too precious to waste!

  5. Matt Kruza

    Love the idea, am very cautious about how it will be implemented. I know you guys have obviously thought about that a lot so curious to see the details. If done well, it can serve as a broader template nation-wide. I just balk a little around the financial details of properly incentivizing the teachers. Unions may not be too excited for some teachers to start making $10 or 20k more a year, but if teachers don’t get that type of bump I doubt you will get necessary long-term skill. Curious to see how you overcome this (and happy to be wrong about teacher unions trying to muck this up)

    1. Mike Zamansky

      I share a number of concerns and the union’s the least of them.I hope it works out well (at least the part of me excluding the ego which resents the fact that DOE has excluded me and my work) but looking at the direction DOE is already going in, I suspect that CS Ed will go the way of Math Ed and Science Ed – we’ll have it in all the schools but it won’t be particularly good.Time will tell.With people like Fred keeping an eye on things I’m more optimistic than I’d be if he wasn’t

      1. Matt Kruza

        Can you share why you don’t think unions are a big part of the math and science ed? If you paid math and science ed 10-30k more then you would have higher quality … wouldn’t you agree? And the primary reason that you can’t do that is unions and their contracts.. I don’t say this with an act to grind, I say it precisely because of the point you make on math, science, and other high skill areas that normally respond to market incentives. From Fred’s praise I gather you have at least an informed opinion on this, whether right or not, so I am curious for more elaboration on increased wages vs unions vs other issues? I really think the fundamental issue is wages and autonomy… hope to what/how you might disagree

        1. Mike Zamansky

          Well, to start – teachers – including math, science, and CS teachers aren’t in it for the money. The best teachers I know – including math and science are against merit pay for a variety of reasons. It isn’t about money.Teachers are looking for enough of a financial reward to have a decent middle class life – that’s getting to be less and less the case – part due to pay, part due to govts stripping teachers of due process, part due to forcing them to do scripted teaching and teaching to tests.I have no love for my union but I think the government and school administrations are much bigger problems.

          1. Matt Kruza

            Well I respect and appreciate your response. And both a few family members and one of my best friends are teachers (both are top 2-5% type intellects based on test scores etc). However, in aggregate teachers have relatively lower test scores and gpa’s than most people who go into industry. This can come across insulting, but it is merely a pretty widely acknowledge statistic. There are many amazing teachers, but there are many mediocre ones, and you would have more of the former if pay was higher, especially for the demand areas. If teaching paid $20k more for technical fields you would get more qualified candidates for difficult subjects, there is no doubt. So if right now 50% are highly talented, higher pay might make it 80% highly talented. Obviously the measure is subjective, but it is simply ideological intransigence that would not allow for this to take place, as economic incentives certainly matter to the majority of the country, with education being no different. I do agree that one way to increase the salaries would be to reduce administrative overhead, and give that extra pay to the 20% of highly technical and demanding jobs. And lastly, voters may / do balk at paying more, but I actually think if you cut admin, and said we need to raise taxes so we can have supremely talented technical people teach your kids, they may be more likely to support. To reiterate again, there clearly are talented teachers in some technical positions and they don’t do it for the money. But they are not the majority, and money would help solve that.

          2. Mike Zamansky

            You’re right in terms of the overall scores of incoming teachers but I disagree with money being the answer.Not everyone is in their field for the money and teaching is a great example of that. Decent work conditions and a career path – two things that the govt has been hammering away at are critical and overall respect for the field.If someone goes into the field for the cash bonus they probably won’t be a terrific teacher.I had more to write but I have to run to class now.

          3. Matt Zagaja

            I know plenty of teachers and I think the “entrepreneurial” nature of being able to make their own lesson plans along with interacting with the students each day is a big part of what drives them. Also no question in my mind that some people make it into the profession because it is a “safe” career path. Those teachers are happy to implement whatever testing regime comes from above but you won’t see them in a classroom past 3 p.m. (or so I’m told).Also I’m not necessarily convinced that the talent pool of people that are good at technical things is the same talent pool that is going to be skilled at teaching those technical things. For better or worse tech draws lots of indoor personalities that would rather be doing research or coding than teaching and I doubt they’ll jump ship and want to deal with students anymore than they want to be promoted into management no matter how much cash you dangle in front of them.

          4. Matt Kruza

            I agree on the points you mention – I just think more money on top of it would make a difference as well is all.

          5. Mike Zamansky

            Hey – I wouldn’t say no to a few extra bucks.

          6. Matt Kruza

            🙂 i will see what i can do…

          7. Stephen Voris

            I used to think I’d enjoy teaching; dipped my toe into the water a couple times, did better at tutoring than anything resembling classroom management – but concluded that it was as bureaucratized and roughly as expensive to join as medicine (bachelor degree in education plus a few years’ study of the subject to be taught)… for, let’s say, half the pay or so.Sure, money’s not the raison d’etre for existing teachers… but there’s likely some selection bias at work there.

          8. PhilipSugar

            I agree with this. When you look at the non-teacher expense it makes you sick.Admin/government have figured this out. They keep growing their side and when anybody complains about the budgets, they say well we are going to have to cut teachers.It is the same for police and fire.In every other field (exactly because of computers) the amount of support staff versus doers has dramatically decreased. Hell companies used to have their own travel staff.Now executives at $Billion companies share admins.The only people that have dedicated admins anymore are those in the government.

          9. Vasudev Ram

            >Hell companies used to have their own travel staff.I suppose you mean nowadays staff is replaced with some ERP or a SaaS?In India I’m sure many medium or larger companies still have a travel desk / department. Some that I worked in did. More tech-oriented ones probably use ERP (or mini-ERP) or a SaaS.

          10. PhilipSugar

            You do your own. Even if you are a SVP, it is quicker and more efficient.

          11. PhilipSugar

            I could not agree more about scripting. Some idiot decided that we were “behind”.Knowledge is not answering a question that you have seen before. That is rote memorization.Knowledge is using what you’ve learned and YOU come up with the question and then work to the answer.

        2. andyswan

          This may shed light

          1. Matt Zagaja

            If I had to guess most of those dollars are going to healthcare plans for employees that are rising at a rate greater than inflation. In CT we also know that much of the additional money is going into additional contributions into the teacher pension plan system that was underfunded in previous years. Functionally we’re paying more for the same product thanks to the magic of shifting spending into the future (which has finally arrived) and inflation.Also OECD put out an interesting report about education and technology recently. Think a lot of spending has gone into IT efforts that maybe don’t pay off but look snazzy to the school board (like smart boards) as opposed to more useful things (like scientific instruments).Have seen people in tech come to some of my local school board meetings to “tell” the board members if they switched the computers to Linux they’d save a ton of money on Windows licenses. Lots more behind doing something like that than bringing an install disc. (Also maybe not a good idea when most users are comfortable with Windows and need to know it for their work.)

          2. PhilipSugar

            I’d love to see how much of that increase is administration. I had a friend take over the local school board.He said you could not believe the non teacher expense. There were secretaries making $85k a year that were never showing up.They were buying ridiculously expensive lawn equipment and building garages to store it, and mowing it with really high paid workers.Then they were saying things like we need to cut music, its the ultimate power play.

          3. LE

            We are in a constant fight with the public school located next to the office condo over using our parking lot. They rent out the auditorium for all sorts of events (was even on Dance Moms) drawing huge crowds that spill onto our property. So I did a little research and turned up what public facilities rent for at public schools. They charge you for all sorts of things just like a catering hall would. They make thousands each time they rent the hall out (in addition to legit uses like graduation). The info I turned up was what allowed me to rile up the other board members they actually felt we just needed to be nice to the school because they were a school.My point with the school was that they needed to take some of that money they charge people and/or require that the facility renter pay for someone to block people going into our lot. Or pay the police (they charge I think $85 per hour). We shouldn’t have to pay for it. They are causing the problem, they are making money, let them pay. At first we wrote them letters which they ignored. Then we had our attorney write them a letter. They have also ignored that as well! Unbelievable.So you might say “why not block the lot and charge for parking!”. Great idea I had that idea. We tried that at my suggestion. Printed up tickets stood at the lot entrance. What happened? People going to events threatened the woman who works for the management company and her daughter (really) because they expected to just be able to use the lot and not have to pay.

          4. LE

            One other thing I also investigated having a towing company tow and bottom line is in this state unless you sign off on each tow they towing company won’t tow any cars on your behalf. So they won’t sit in the lot and do it without someone else being liable for towing a car incorrectly.

          5. PhilipSugar

            I am willing to bet you they net almost nothing.They probably pay a ton of admin staff double overtime at tremendously padded hours. Then they pay the management company a huge cut, and that management has a large expense to take care of those people that hired them.

          6. LE

            This link shows the rates for another district in the same county:…However note that they don’t charge for “charitable or philanthropic functions” even though those functions are raising money and have paid employees. All with tax dollars to support this.And things like this:When technical equipment or school equipment is used extensively, a designated school employee must be present and have strict supervision of its use. The cost of the employee will be determined by the Board of Education and will be noted on the application.My feeling is that if they were simply breaking even they would be glad to pass along an extra fee to the end user. But if they are profiting (and I think they are it’s a slush fund basically) they want to keep as many dollars for themselves as possible.

          7. Matt Kruza

            that is partially helpful in showing that money is not the only answer, but misleading i feel in that the problem is the money is given out indiscriminately now, instead of being incentive based. Yes, definitely need different incentives than the private sector, but certainly can still have semi-meritocratic rewards. Curious if you agree and how you meant the chart. We usually are both more conservative, so wasn’t sure exactly how you meant the chart, and perhaps I am missing something.

      2. Anne Libby

        You almost can’t be a change agent in a system like that without being excluded. Good on you.

        1. PhilipSugar

          That’s a good positive way to put it.It still though is really bothersome that he was excluded. If somebody like me down here in Delaware knows his name that is a shame.

          1. LE

            A deliberate diss for sure. Does that surprise you that people act this way? Not me. Oh I am quite sure that with the personalities and egos of the people at the DOE, the high school as in “who gets credit for what” that it’s actually quite deliberate.

          2. PhilipSugar

            It doesn’t surprise me one bit. It just proves/reinforces my disgust with the people in admin/government

      3. Sandy

        Wow, I’ve never seen an education insider with your opinions. Respect. Who are you?Impressive that you don’t want taxpayers to give teachers and ed admin even more money.That shows real integrity on your part, to tell the truth that ed isn’t exactly lacking money and to instead encourage ed to do the right thing – when you could so easily keep scapegoating it on money, and keep greedily lining your own pockets as an insider.US public education desperately needs you as its leader. Of course that’s why you’ve been excluded.

        1. Mike Zamansky

          I’m just an old grizzled CS teacher at Stuyvesant High.

  6. JimHirshfield

    Great news! CS all the things!!

  7. pointsnfigures

    A noble effort but government isn’t equipped to do it. First move should be outsource to the private sector. Will get better results and be cheaper for taxpayers. That means dropping all the bureaucratic regs imposed on public schools and all the union rules

    1. Tom Labus

      It’s the Teachers Union!!!!!

      1. pointsnfigures

        At the margin, all the money spent on public education is totally inefficient right now. It should be a lot better. Criminal what we are doing in the US right now. Vouchers and competition would make the market work better. Right now, it’s an enforced monopoly.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Maybe not just at the margin.

    2. Jess Bachman

      In a world where all option are on the table and equally doable, this is the best option.Unfortunately…

  8. Anne Libby

    Very exciting! Congratulations and kudos.

  9. andyswan

    It’s like the exact opposite of my kids’ school…which allows no computers in the classroom (which we agree with from edu standpoint)Congratulations on getting the project going. Sounds like a big undertaking!

  10. awaldstein

    Congrats on this Fred. I know it means a lot to you and Joanne and it means a lot to the future of NYC.

  11. laurie kalmanson

    this is awesome.

  12. Chimpwithcans

    I’m taking a long shot here in the name of CS education – can anyone in the AVC community tell me the best coding language for creating a program to allow for manual input of data, storage of that data, performing ratios and calcs with that data, and querying of that data’s historical values over time?

    1. kidmercury

      for time-series querying and calculating, R or python…..i would vote R if you need data visualization or sophisticated calculations, python has the upper hand in terms of weaving the app into the fabric of the general environment on the internet today

      1. Chimpwithcans

        Thanks a lot, Kid. Appreciate the response.

  13. laurie kalmanson

    the modern equivalent of this…

    1. Jess Bachman

      We choose to teach CS, not because it is easy, but because it is haahhd.

    2. Tom Labus

      Play this and “Ask not… ” before the “debates” (recess) tonight

      1. laurie kalmanson


  14. Rohan

    Congrats Fred and CSNYC team!

  15. BillMcNeely

    @mikezamansky So have you guys taken a look at a society like South Korea who respects and values education and the teachers who provide to see how they handle incentivizing teachers?

  16. Emily Steed

    Bravo!!! Wonderful news!!!

  17. Bipper Media

    Great post Fred! I’m a long ways from NYC to be sure, but just last week I started teaching a computer science course at a private school here in Athens, Georgia (the first of its kind in this city). I’m not a teacher, but I do run a tech business where I build websites and run marketing automation for clients, and I also have 4 children, so I’m very “bought in” to the idea of teaching coding and computer science. And based on my first class, I can already tell by the look in the student’s eyes that this is opening up a whole new world for them. I can’t wait to read your post tomorrow on this. Thanks again

  18. EdReal

    Wow, so much craziness here.First, to lend some (mild) support to Mike Zamansky–there is zero call in the math/science teaching community for more money relative to other teachers. It’s simply not an issue for us, as a group.Second, Matt says “However, in aggregate teachers have relatively lower test scores and gpa’s than most people who go into industry.” “In aggregate” is an utterly pointless way to consider teachers and test scores, since the cognitive ability required to teach 3rd graders is considerably less than that required to teach high schoolers academic subjects. And once you sort it by that, elementary school teachers come from just below average for college grads, and high school academic teachers are well above average–that is, literally, the average is at the 60% or so. Particularly in math. And remember, there’s next to no evidence demonstrating that smarter teachers lead to better academic outcomes.Third, the chart on spending is true, but none of the speculation is. Teaching salaries and benefits are only half of school spending; the bulk of spending increases were caused by special education demands. Special education students, who comprise 14% of the student population, cost on average twice as much to teach. Now, as for computer education: this is a massive waste of time. The reason the window is set at 10 years is because it will take far less time than that for everyone to move on to something more interesting, but less doable, so by the time ten years have gone by no one will remember to point out that it didn’t happen, as they’ll all have interesting things to do.I am a math teacher who spent nearly 20 years in computers. Computer programming is linked strongly to cognitive ability, so to spend money pretending to teach kids with IQs below 110 about computer programming is not only a waste of money, it’s an insult.But hey, we have lots of experience teaching computer programming in….oh, wait. No, we don’t. In fact, there’s not a single computer science curriculum out there that improves over a motivated kid learning it himself (and it’s probably a him). But equity! Equity! What’s equity, again? Shoving computer science down kids faces when they didn’t ask for it? That’s equity?It is to weep.

    1. LE

      Special education students, who comprise 14% of the student population, cost on average twice as much to teach.IEPs. I dated a girl once who had a special needs son and I remember what a game it was for her to try and get all sorts of extra services out of the school district. I attended most of those meetings, my job was to work the strategy angle I guess you could say (and I found the whole process fascinating). In the case of this child he really was special needs. But as I understand it there are many parents who push garden variety add or adhd so that their child gets a great deal of extra services and help that maybe the parent should actually be paying for. Back when I was in school you hired and paid for your own tutors in middle class school districts.In this particular situation the child attended both a charter school and a public school at different times. The meetings at the charter school lasted what seemed like a half a day or even longer with various members of the team present (teacher, principle and a few others). They didn’t restrict parents at all (perhaps because it was a new school and they didn’t know how to contain the parents and what they asked for) so there were no boundaries. This particular public school was a well oiled machine of “sorry we can’t do that for your son”. They also limited the meetings to about 1 hour approx. In the public school the team members would just get up and leave didn’t matter if the parents finish their list of things that they wanted for their child. Small anecdote and I don’t doubt the figure you have presented.

    2. LE

      The reason the window is set at 10 years is because it will take far less time than that for everyone to move on to something more interesting, but less doable, so by the time ten years have gone by no one will remember to point out that it didn’t happen, as they’ll all have interesting things to do.Wow we think alike. You have hit the nail on the to spend money pretending to teach kids with IQs below 110 about computer programming is not only a waste of money, it’s an insult.Agree. And you will also find that even with higher IQ’s. Just like not everybody has artistic ability (regardless of IQ) not everyone is cut out for computer programming or math. I know this because even though I excel in some things and I can program computers somewhat in no way do I have the skills to be a full time computer programmer. My wife otoh who has a great memory, is good at math, but has nominal interest in computers would probably blow me away if that was her career. (And I stress “no interest in computers” she makes up for it with raw potential that would allow her to learn very quickly.)In fact, there’s not a single computer science curriculum out there that improves over a motivated kid learning it himself (and it’s probably a him). Agree. I always played with computers and learned anything I was able to do on my own with books because I wanted to. The one computer course that I took in college (APL) was a chore that I struggled to get through.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        I’ve not worked on APL but based on what little I’ve read of it [1], I think it would be extra difficult to learn (compared to “mainstream” languages like C, Pascal, Java, Python, etc.), for people without a good math background, because part of APL is about manipulating matrices (2-D arrays of numbers) and such. (Also, IIRC, APL needed a special keyboard with many unusual symbols). So that experience of yours with APL may not be representative. Not arguing either way about the more general point that you and @EdReal made, though.[1] And I’ve played around a bit with J, a somewhat recent language (compared to APL) which is in the spirit of APL though with some differences, by the same inventor, Kenneth Iverson. (J doesn’t need a special keyboard, BTW.) A lot of people (e.g. on HN) say that J is also difficult to learn (partly due to its cryptic and very concise syntax – think 10 characters of code vs a page or two of code in another language, for the same functionality, as a ballpark figure.). Its supposed to be very powerful, though.BTW, many of the demos that you get along with J when you download and install it, are fantastic (including 3D graphics / OpenGL), and worth checking out for even for programmers who never mean to learn and use J. And J is a small download.…He won the Turing Award.”He was honored with the Turing Award in 1979 for his contributions to mathematical notation and programming language theory.” – Wikipedia.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          A few excerpts from the Wikipedia article about J:1:J is a very terse array programming language, and is most suited to mathematical and statistical programming, especially when performing operations on matrices. It has also been used in Extreme Programming[8] and network performance analysis.[9]2:The following defines a J function named “avg” to calculate the average of a list of numbers: avg=: +/ % #This is a test execution of the function: avg 1 2 3 42.5# counts the number of items in the array. +/ sums the items of the array. %divides the sum by the number of items. Note: avg is defined above using a train of three verbs (“+/”, “%”, and “#”) known as a fork. Specifically (V0 V1 V2) Ny is the same as (V0(Ny)) V1 (V2(Ny)) which shows some of the power of J. (Here V0, V1, and V2 denote verbs and Ny denotes a noun.)

    3. sigmaalgebra

      For But hey, we have lots of experience teaching computer programming in….oh, wait. No, we don’t. In fact, there’s not a single computer science curriculum out there that improves over a motivated kid learning it himself (and it’s probably a him). IMHO and experience, there’s an important point there but, in total, that’s too severe and extreme.Yes, the US computer industry has depended heavily on people teaching themselves. And apparently now employment interviews for software developer positions mostly ignore academic education in computer science and, instead, just give the candidate some basic tests, say, outline some code for some of the more famous algorithms in, say, sorting, searching, string manipulation, submit open source code on GitHub, describe significant software development projects completed, etc.So, now self-teaching is a pillar of the US computer industry.Yes, I learned computing from on the job experience and a lot of self-teaching. So, I learned heap sort (the only one of these sorting algorithms that meets the Gleason bound), quick sort, shell sort, merge sort, of course, bubble sort (the one not to use), radix sort (in an important sense, in practice the fastest of these), AVL trees, etc. from experience, reading code, practice from writing code, various papers, of course all the volumes then in print of Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming, etc. E.g., at a conference on Knuth’s TeX, I mentioned to him, and got a smile, that I’d programmed a general multi-key heap sort — if you will, via object oriented software and its interfaces. E.g., noticed that the first passes of Shell sort do nothing on the bit reversed sequence from most of the more popular versions of the fast Fourier transform. So, right, I was fairly deep into that stuff, all without anything from an academic classroom.Academics? Sure, I taught computer science before my Ph.D. at Georgetown University and after my Ph.D. in graduate school at Ohio State University.My experience was a bit strange, unusual, and rare — net, if only from luck, I had a lot of advantages: So, in high school, IBM gave an aptitude test in all the high schools in the city and invited the best 16 to a summer program in computing — I was one of the 16. I was at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in projects that needed a lot of computing, so dug in and learned a lot. E.g., dug into numerical linear algebra and condition number for systems of linear equations and also the M. Newman number theory approach to numerically exact matrix inversion. Later I was doing computing for algebraic manipulations for the Navier-Stokes equations for the US Navy. Later I was in software at the National HQ of GE Information Systems and got deep into the fast Fourier transform, curve fitting (e.g., for polynomials via orthogonality — more stable numerically), Gram-Schmidt for generating test orthogonal matrices, and more. Later power spectral estimation, and more. More for my Ph.D. in stochastic optimal control. Later artificial intelligence, optimization, mathematical statistics, etc. at the IBM Watson Research lab in Yorktown Heights.That was a lot of luck for a background in computing.Really, expecting people to do really well in a career in computing just from self-teaching is not a really good idea: There is just too much to know, and, as usual in large fields, it’s really good to have some expert guidance to help organize the field and select high quality presentations of some of the most important material.In a large field, a biggie problem with self-teaching is like a pioneer first into the woods: He learns the woods really well, and can leave some trails that will permit much faster progress for other, but it is slow going with a lot of wasted motion.Sure, if just want to teach, say, fromBrian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie, The C Programming Language,and have an exercise writing quick sort for signed integers, okay, but that does not take one very far in, say, Backus-Naur notation, lexical scanning, parsing and parse trees, LALR parsing, compiling, code optimization, linking, exceptional condition handling, dynamic storage management, concurrency, more modern programming languages, much more in algorithms and data structures, TCP/IP, database, Web sites, production software security, reliability, and performance, and management of software teams.For this rest, could use some courses.We don’t expect people to be self-taught in medicine, engineering, etc., and there should also be some good courses for computing.E.g., in about two lectures, cover the high points of Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming: Sorting and Searching. That is good material, way too difficult to expect people to reinvent it for themselves, and such a lecture would be much more effective use of time than some self-teaching, even some that eventually did learn that material appreciate its importance.Still, of course, we need to be educating high school and college students for the next several decades, that is, to do well with the changes of the future. For that, my recommendation would be to emphasize mathematics, e.g., high school algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, solid geometry, then college calculus, abstract algebra, linear algebra, advanced calculus (theorems and proofs), ordinary differential equations, point set topology, measure theory, functional analysis, probability, stochastic processes, and statistics, optimization. Along with that, emphasize mathematical physics.

      1. EdReal

        First, the vast majority of computer programmers for over 30 years didn’t need anything you described–and don’t today. You’re describing a very narrow field. And, by definition, a narrow field is one that has tremendous cognitive requirements–which means teaching it to everyone in high school is a total non-starter.We don’t educate everyone in medicine, engineering, etc. We educate those interested and those capable.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          First, the vast majority of computer programmers for over 30 years didn’t need anything you described–and don’t today. Right. You’re describing a very narrow field. No, I was describing some of the rock solid, central pillars of practical computer science and software development for both the past and now and also describing essentially what is called scientific-engineering computing.Also much about the current fields of analytics, machine learning, robotics, neural networks, big data, artificial intelligence, need to draw heavily from what I listed.But I also wrote: Still, of course, we need to be educating high school and college students for the next several decades, that is, to do well with the changes of the future. For that, my recommendation would be to emphasize You did notice what I wrote?What I wrote is not clear?So, you were talking about the past “30 years” and the present, and I was talking about what stands to be important to teach now for the future.We were talking about teaching, right, and teaching in grades 1-12, right, and teaching for jobs in the future, right? E.g., if are teaching them in middle school, they might not get a job for six years.I know; I know; I know; NYC is going to have the teachers all nice and ready from some summer programs. Right! And, while we’re at it, for only two more days, there’s this fantastic deal on a bridge across the East River — opportunity knocks but once, once in a lifetime opportunity, act fast!

  19. iggyfanlo

    Congrats… it sure feels good when your purpose is realized

  20. Erin

    Congratulations. Big day for you guys.

  21. kirklove

    Congrats to all involved!

  22. gorbachev

    And it will only take 10 years. I’m sure this will be a resounding success.Another take on this:http://developers.slashdot….”NYC counting on donations to fund required K-12 computer science programs”As a father of kids who are just entering the school system in NYC all I can say is…well, I’d rather not, because the profanity filter would kick in.Edit: Obviously, in general, these sort of developments are positive. I’m just completely frustrated by what I see happening in education in NYC (lottery system for gifted and talented programs, really???) and US in general (arresting young clock makers as the last perfect example).

  23. Robert Heiblim

    Yes, it is great news. Now how about all over the country? Let’s keep on it.

  24. Semil Shah

    Thank you and your wife & family for using your ideas and influence in such a way. This goes so far beyond a donation of time or money. It is a real contribution.

  25. LE

    Oh yes forgot to say congratulations I saw the story last night.I also saw this about big banks and the blockchain and thought this might be on your mind today:…Some of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc, are exploring the use of bitcoin’s underlying technology to overhaul financial markets.The group has joined forces with R3, a startup run by a former ICAP Plc executive, to develop standards and protocols for deploying blockchain — as the ledger technology is known — to speed up the execution and settlement of trades in markets such as syndicated loans and repurchase agreements. R3 and the banks plan to test and validate how the software can be applied to markets, according to a statement Tuesday.

  26. 0tiger1

    How are they defining computer science – making a phone app? Learning Javascript? Learning CS logic principals? TBD?

    1. fredwilson

      here is my definition…

  27. Twain Twain

    Coding in finance.

  28. Ronnie Rendel

    Any idea how I can get help bringing CS courses to non public schools in NYC? I live in a hasidic community and have long tried to get afternoon/evening courses in CS for 11th and 12th graders.I had many names for these programs, now I just personally mentor students and let them learn on their own on Codecademy and Udemy. A couple of students are full time developers today.

  29. LukeG

    Awesome, but: can’t we do this in five years?

  30. Betty

    I’ve been following your blog daily for several months now and can clearly see your commitment to this CS education initiative. Initially, I thought it was simply a “cool” concept. But the more I think about it, this is an amazing opportunity to shape the education system here in a much needed way. I am currently a business school student and feel slightly “too late to the game” whenever I think about having CS skills as part of my repertoire. Setting this skill set as the standard will be crucial for future generations. I’m totally on board!

  31. george

    Congratulations! Education is dear to my heart, and I view this a truly seminal moment in public education. Great front-end investment – kids will flourish, parents and communities will benefit richly and the next big thing will most likely, breakout of NYC.I hope to see this EDU Model replicated and adopted everywhere…

  32. Douglas Crets

    Big UP BRONX!