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Funding for Technology Classes?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the proper-priorities-for-education dept.

81

SelfTaught asks; "My school district recently built a brand new football stadium and athletics field-house, both with state of the art electronics; yet when asked about implementing a computer science class district officials reply with, 'This is a property poor school district.' Apparently property poor school districts have 20 foot plasma scoreboards and multi-million dollar athletic training facilities. As a pubescent high school student, I'm not very happy with the way my district spends the money my parents pay for my education. How can I encourage my district to provide more technology classes? If I can't get technology education in school, then what would be the best way to teach myself?"

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81 comments

Nationwide trend (2, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171059)

I feel for you, this has been one of my pet peeves for years now.

But, look at the bright side, our (USA) sports celebrities are the highest paid in the world.
(Just overlook the fact that academically we are falling behind faster every year)

What is even worse (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171215)

Is that these stadiums and facilities are off-limits to anyone but a few select school students.

It opened my eyes when I was in Europe, that when the school gynastic grounds were not in use (after school, weekends), the people of the community could use it. More often than not, they were not even "school grounds" officially, but community grounds that the school happened to be nearby and would thus use for their athletes.

I know there will be cries about pedophiles and such, but as a society, we tend to segregrate ourselves away into our niches anyway behind fences, gated communities, security guards, and what not, so much that it has gone into a completely unhealthy territory.

The other thing that ticks me off is the continual elite treatment/sexist treatment of Football. There is simply no woman's equivalent, even though Field Hockey did make a blip every so often. I was a soccer player. Despite the sport's continuing growth here in the US, we get second rate fields, minimal funding (and the vast majority of girls' sports are similiarly ignored in many schools) in favor of Football. The soccer team/field hockey teams can be state champions and the Football team can be complete losers and they will be still be treated better.

Re:What is even worse (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171445)

Is that these stadiums and facilities are off-limits to anyone but a few select school students.

AFAIK, I, a non-student, can use the school given permits and the like. When I was in school (a 1991 graduate) we had an indoor pool and weightlifting room with public hours, the track and football field are open to the public except for event nights and with some minor (read: common sense) restrictions.

I can't say anything for your school district but ours is fairly open. I'm in the US as well.

Despite the sport's continuing growth here in the US, we get second rate fields, minimal funding (and the vast majority of girls' sports are similarly ignored in many schools) in favor of Football.

Consider private sponsors play in that scheme too. You may not like it but as long as people are giving free money away they have every right to decide how it is to be spent. Also consider that football games are one of the few profitable ventures schools can participate in. There is normally tons of support behind the football teams from the community in the way of paying to see the games and fund raising. I can't remember the last time some hapless geek asked me to buy a candy bar in the name of the chess club. Not that I wouldn't buy one either. If I was asked by a school student to support a local (enter the name of your geek activity here) club I would probably help out with both money and offering to help them along with my time/experience. But, hey, it's upto them to organize. I'm not going out of my way if their too lazy to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get to task.

Re:What is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16171561)

Maybe the area of PA I used to live in (outside Philly) is just unually restrictive.

My parents tried to use the pool on the weekend in our school when I was in middle school (they still had a European mindset back then, these days they just have a membership somewhere) and it was a nightmare on the restrictions, permits, etcetera. Basically, they could use it during the summer during very limited hours. The school officials tried to make it so inconvenient so that no one would/did use it.

Of course, there is a park in my area that is just as restrictive. We were hosting an exchange student, and she tried jogging in the park, and a ranger stopped her asking for a jogging permit! Having driven my it, this "park" (open field) has no people ever.

The lake beach in our area is also for county residents only (not even in-state residency is good enough), the ranger theres there check your license upon entry and denies entrance to out-of-county drivers. Mind you, this beach operates well under %50 capacity on most hot days except maybe the 4th of July - so it isn't a measure to limit overcrowding.

Re:What is even worse (1)

UnderDark (869922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171989)

If you want to help geeky students, ask at your local High School(s) if they have a FIRST robotics team [usfirst.org] : they always need more money and mentors.

Re:What is even worse (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172129)

The point that I'm trying to make is that the reason the football team gets support is because they're out there putting in foot work to get donations. If geek clubs want funding they need to do foot work too and not just piss and moan about "those damn jocks". You might be surprised about local tech companies or perhaps local chapters of the IEEE (and such) who are willing to lend a hand.

Re:What is even worse (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16173561)

They probably don't expect any positive outcome of such a venture; if they thought it would work, they'd probably have done it. Apart from you, how many of the locals in your neighbourhood do you think would donate?

Re:What is even worse (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16174451)

Apart from you, how many of the locals in your neighbourhood do you think would donate? And I think there are more people in the community who back this type of thing than what you may first think. I think there are a number of "geeks" in the community. Just because they're not here on slashdot talking about it and they're no out wearing shirts from Jinx doesn't mean that they're not "geeks" in their own way. Who the hell do you think pays for all these scholarships? And yes, there are tons of academic scholarships. Maybe they're not all glorious full-rides, enough to pay for MIT, but they're free money that someone felt was well spent on education.

Most people buy from/donate to "charity" efforts blindly. Why do you think scammers use these organizations?

They probably don't expect any positive outcome of such a venture; if they thought it would work, they'd probably have done it.

Imagine that. Given the number of slashdotters who simply scream "it cant be done" or "you're a fucktard" without a single bit of reasoning pretty much goes to show the common mentality of those who think they're "smart". Maybe if more of us "smart" people approached the situation with a bit less cynicism maybe we'd be proven wrong by the end result. In short: most slashdotters don't seem to think that they'll encounter positive results outside of their own.. sounds like the same kind of cliquish behaviour I often here "geeks" condemning "jocks" for.

Re:What is even worse (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178907)

The expectation of failure might be because of a general feeling of being outsiders when being geeky; this picture is of course worsened and perpetuated by popular culture, with movies about "geeky kids overcoming the odds and [fill in winning scenario]".
When faced with that sort of image of geeks, I can understand why more geeks don't automatically think of fundraising like that.
I'm not saying it wouldn't work though. I've raised plenty of money for other geeky endeavours (LARP), but those have been mostly through semi-public channels (living in a socialist country is rockin')

Re:What is even worse (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171583)

How is that WORSE than the entire country getting stupider and less knowledgeable every day of every year??

And what the hell are you talking about, segregating ourselves away? This is the age of the attention whoring myspace user. The world needs more introverts.

Re:What is even worse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16171669)

5 years ago, on 9/11/2001, 3200 people died of heart disease or cancer.

And 3200 people, of no fault of their own, died by the hands of cowards. These 3200 people, save an unforseen tragedy, would have seen 09/12/2001 had it not been for fundamentalists who continue to kill in the name of God. Jerkoff.

Re:What is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16171883)

His sig is making the point that we're blowing billions of dollars in antiterrorism funds because of one incident which killed thousands of people. And these funds could be better spent to develop treatments for diseases that kill thousands of people per day, every day.

Religion is a fucking mentall illness--don't get me wrong on that point--but the money we're dumping into "fighting terrorism" isn't going to amount to shit anyway.

I'm being somewhat presumptuous in speaking for the OP, but I get the feeling he's a kindred spirit who is also tired of the whole 9/11 phenomenon that's dominating this country.

Re:What is even worse (1)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171901)

I think maybe the point is 150,000 or so other people died that day, and every day since, so maybe it's time to stop devoting so much attention to the relative few when the majority don't get anything (most not even an obituary). Or maybe that's not the point, whatever. I'm pretty sick of hearing about 9/11 myself. NEVAR FORGET!!!1111ONE

Re:What is even worse (0)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172117)

Yeah, that was exactly the point. I'm glad other people agree. The post above yours was also good, but I don't feel like replying to it.

Re:What is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16172339)

Whatever. People are working on these other causes too, just because your local media doesn't cover it doesn't mean nothing is going on. A ton more money is spent on medical research than the "war on terror" and most people who die of cancer or heart disease actively bring it on themselves. They have full knowledge that what they're doing is doing damage to themselves yet do nothing to stop it. They're shoveling themselves into a grave. Stop acting like they're martyrs or unwitting victims.

Re:What is even worse (2, Interesting)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172123)

And 3200 people, of no fault of their own, died by the hands of cowards.

It continues to puzzle me where Americans, who kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians by dropping bombs onto them from great altitude, out of airplanes, without any threat to the health or well-being of the bomber, get the gall to use the term "coward" in reference to people who were willing to die for the completion of their mission. Whatever the 9/11-perpetrators were, they were most ceratinly not cowards.

Re:What is even worse (1)

Terminal Saint (668751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172271)

Careful Bill, keep talking like that and ABC will take your show off the air...

Re:What is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16172721)

Whatever the 9/11-perpetrators were, they were most ceratinly not cowards.


They were cowards. They preferred death over:
- The realization that they murdered many people.
- The risk of being arrested as they flew from the scene.
- The accusations about them not being Islamic.

A willingness to die is not a measure of courage - it is only a measure of a willingness to die. In this classic joke [netfunny.com] , the true measure of courage is shown by mouthing off at a superior officer rather than needlessly facing risk death by diving from the mast and swimming under the keel.

Re:What is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16176241)

Your analogy (joke) is flawed in that the 9/11 murderers believed and wanted to participate in their mission, unlike the sailors given their orders.

Re:What is even worse (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171927)

How is that WORSE than the entire country getting stupider and less knowledgeable every day of every year??

Mens sana in corpore sano. Mind, body connection, if you will.

And what the hell are you talking about, segregating ourselves away? This is the age of the attention whoring myspace user. The world needs more introverts.


Attention whoring yourself out on the internet does not mean you are any less isolated from real human contact. Perhaps attention whoring yourself out on myspace is a symptom of isolation in itself.

And you may be surprised on the amount of introverts letting loose on the net and being completely different in real life.

Perhaps you meant the world needs to pay less attention (stop rewarding) to attention whores in the first place.

Re:What is even worse (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172105)

I was just using myspace as an example. At Duke University you can't turn 90 degrees without seeing mediocre-looking chicks jogging in sports bras, looking around to see if any guys are watcing them, or girls in bikinis sunning themselves in the most populated place they can find, or people sitting in corners outside with pouty expressions, hoping someone will walk up and ask what's wrong (which people are all too happy to do), or people pretending to read thick books in the courtyards, hoping someone will compliment them on their intelligence, or people blasting their crappy generic music through crappy computer speakers with their doors open, hoping someone with equally poor taste in music will come in and compliment their musical tastes. I don't know how it is everywhere else, but here and the high school I left you can't escape the damn attention whores.

Re:What is even worse (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172457)

Now I see where you are coming from^_^

Re:Nationwide trend (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16205487)

I think the best idea is to take a business approach to the problem. As a techie turned MBA that attends a land grand university I see how larger institutions fund education. My B-School has a brand new building with LCD screens in some of our own private meeting rooms. Our computer lab has dual 21" flat screens on about 40 computers even though it is all but required for us to have laptops. This was all funded by private donations. Most of the money came from alumni, but a fair ammount came from campanies with an interest in hiring our students. The same is true for high schools. Schools can find money through several sources, taxes, donations, and fund raisers. Try an hit up local tech companies. Don't just walk in asking for cash without a solid plan. Business people love plans and being a high school student with a well thought out plan would give you a huge boost in their eyes. Even small tech shops may be willing to donate time/resources to help your cause if you think it through. Look at you plan and approach sponsors/donors that would get something out of it. If they see some benifit (ie. a better workforce, potential customers, or possilbe advertising opportunities) they will at least listen to your ideas. Business people usually have money to invest if they see value in the idea so think about it from that perspective.

The argument over athletics vs. academics is futile and a waste of time. As many have stated they are based on seprate budgets and athletics (especially football and basket ball) make money and recieve a fair ammount of cash from sponsors and donations.

I went to a private boarding school for high school and actually took a step backwards in technology oriented education from the public school I went to beforhand (I took AP CS as a freshman and my second high school, the private one, had no computer lab).

I taught myself (now I am dating myself a bit) by first being a BBS'er then a BBS sysadmin while in junior high (Then most of my BBS buddies were in high school or college). Then I moved on to running Linux and Windows NT in the early to mid 90's when they became available to me. (I actually didn't have any computer for the last couple of years of high school.) I also had a bit of luck by landing a summer job with the DOD as a junior systems analyst as I finished high school and started college. The best education I ever had was just being turned loose on a network and learning on my own how to secure it and configure the equipment. I wouldn't recommend too much learning from a class room unless you really have a hard time. With the Internet it is much easier today to find answers than it was in the late 80's and early 90's when I was limited in the tech community to the people I communicated with through the local BBS network. Everyone learns in their own way so my tactics may not be suited to you, but start your self education by setting goals. Once goals are set you should be able to determine the best course of action to achieve them. Without goals it is very difficult to get very far.

Re:Nationwide trend (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16209383)

I agree with you for the most part, but have to take issue with the percentage of the overall school budget that gets appropriated by the sports department, compared to actual education.

"As many have stated they are based on seprate budgets and athletics (especially football and basket ball) make money and recieve a fair ammount of cash from sponsors and donations."

This seperate budgets you speak of start out in the general budget, then the school's administration assigns it to different departments- this is where I step in to complain so to speak. That and the justification that even you mentioned about how sports can make the school money- the purpose of schools is to educate, not as a recruiting/training camp for the pro's. That attitude is my beef.

As for the donations, etc., yeah- that's fine, but let's stop there.
The budgets assigned to the departments (including donations) are arbitrary, and depends on the school how they will be apportioned.

For example: I used to work at Oklahoma State University in the Large Animal Dept. of the Veterinary Med Teaching Hospital. We had a client bequeath 3.2 million $'s to specifically be used by the Food Animal Department for a new surgery suite. The hospital administrator ( a small animal specialist) decided that the Small Animal Department needed an MRI, and a 6th surgery suite- we ended up with $22,000 of our own 3.2 million because the Admin felt there was more money in small animal medicine.

Re:Nationwide trend (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16209619)

I would agree that any educational institution should first focus on education rather than athletics. The problem is that most donors (of large sums) specify to the $ where they want their money spent. If the institution doesn't spend it correctly they are open to a lawsuit from the donor.

Public money should help fund athletics to the point at which it helps the general student population. Athletics do teach competitive values which are valuable throughout both academic and professional careers. All of this PC garbage that students shouldn't ever loose isn't helpful to students in the long term because we all compete throughout our lives for everythiing. (It's much the the PC argument that teachers shouldn't use red ink anymore.) We compete for the top scores to get into the top universities. Then we compete to land the best jobs. Once we have jobs we compete for advancement. Then we compete with our neighbors for the best house/yard/car. Life is a competition and sports help drive that home at an early age. There are other avenues of competition that people mentioned earlier, like chess for example. Sports are one avenue that purely academic people often ignore because either they aren't interested in them or because they aren't good at them. (I was the second once I started getting older, but I still like them.) But a lack of understanding between the so called "jocks" and the "geeks" just fosters the stereotypes that people propogate in all aspects of life.

I don't think that tax dollars should be spent on million $ screens or gigantic stadiums. The issue at hand is that most large stadiums/arenas for schools are funded in large part by donors. The larger stadiums usually bring in more revenue which is spent on both other sports and if money is left over it goes to other causes(usually not good ones, that I will agree with as well). If the donors specify a stadium/arena/classroom the administrators are obligated to spend that money how the donors request. I would agree that this isn't always the case and if the admiistrators misappropriate the funds that is between the donors and the administrators and has a high likelyhood of ending up in a court battle. In the case you mentioned either the administrators worked it out in advance with the donor or the donor (or the donors estate) didn't follow up like they should have.

Re:Nationwide trend (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210393)

"In the case you mentioned either the administrators worked it out in advance with the donor or the donor (or the donors estate) didn't follow up like they should have."
I'm pretty sure it was the latter in my example.

You mak a strong, reasonable argument. Am I mistaken that you mentioned you went to a private school?
If not, I wonder what bearing this may have on our discussion. If so, then we both have seen different aspects of our current education system. (disclaimer: I graduated high scholl in 1976, but did not go to college until 1991- I was amazed at the difference!)

I could most easily be wrong about this, but it has been my (limited) experience that each school (on the college/university level) or school board (for that district pertaining to high schools/jr. high) has the say on how the budget is divided up, not obligated by default to honor the donor's wishes. I'll admit that I cannot speak with any authority on this, only what I have seen in my limited acadamia (sp?).

Look, I'm not trying to get in a flamewar, as I perceive you are not either- I appreciate the discussion (rare on /. anymore, it seems!). I actually *love* having that "light bulb go bright in my head" on something I thought I knew about! I also think that it can go the other way too far also- you bring up some valid points about sports being a good way to teach about competition, and it is true that competition drives us in many (some unsuspected) ways in our "real world" adult lives. I can't reasonably argue against your points there, IMHO.

I guess this is what I chalk up as the *pendulum effect*- it will swing back to middle ground someday (I hope!), but until then, I still don't really like the disparity (my perspective) between sports and actual education.

I'm gonna be a hard sell probably, but I.m still not happy with our current culture/society where the donor's feel the need to specify sports over education. I understand that my point of view is based on my interests, thus I am biased, but I can't help but think I am not too far off base with my pendulum analogy.

I give you credit for making me think/rethink- I used to really enjoy playing football in Jr. High and High School, even tho' I had given up on pro sports when Vince Lombardi left the Packers to go to the Redskins-TRAITOR!!.....yeah, so I date myself!

Okay, I'm starting to ramble on here, damn kids on my lawn, and all!

But as a side note (in your favor), I've often wondered what makes sports so popular with the public- could it be that sports and corporate executive battles have replace our species "I'm Ooogh, mighty hunter and slayer of rivals!" instincts/mentality?...I've often wondered about this. Can we fix this, or should we even try? I don't know. On one hand, I feel the need to preserve what I think is good in our makeup (society, mentallity, outlook, etc.), but on the other hand I wonder where we could go by throwing all caution to the wind so to speak, and let nature take it's cours. A difficult tightrope to navigate when I have the time to ponder it.

Again, thanks for a healthy debate- I've enjoyed it!- I'm adding you to my friends list just because of the way you have presented your side. (yes, I know that you feel honored-relax!)

Don't take offense-that last jibe was aimed at my own ego, not you-but I am adding you as friend.

Re:Nationwide trend (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16213539)

"You mak a strong, reasonable argument. Am I mistaken that you mentioned you went to a private school?"
Yes, I did attend a private high school for the last few years.. I also went to public schools and have spent a long time in public universities. It took me 10 years to get around to finishing my undergrad (take a couple of classes, take a year or two of, repeat the process until one day I woke up and said I need to get that piece of paper.) Now I am in grad school and work for the University. My college is very particular about using the money in the way it was intended, although we are a business school and are relatively different from the rest of the university.

"But as a side note (in your favor), I've often wondered what makes sports so popular with the public"

That is probably the question to be answered. I don't really understand why either although I am a huge football fan. I am actually willing to trave 12 hours one way to make a football game at my undergrad university. I can't explain it. I do't really get into any other sport, I'll watch a little basketball, or the World Series but i am not much of a follower of those sports. I am not at the fanatical level of some of my friends that know all of the players and stats, but I am still a big football fan (Go Noles!!!).

"I'm Ooogh, mighty hunter and slayer of rivals!" instincts/mentality?...

That is probably the root of it, or it is just our competitive nature that helped humans evolve to be the top living organism on the planet (don't flame me over this just because humans do tons of idiodic things like war and polution, and yes according to Douglas Adams we are #3). I could also be the way many of us were raised, playing pee-wee football, little league, etc. Heck, when I was in high school I had a friend that would compete with me in algebra (who was faster, who go the higher grade, who could sleep more in class). I think it all comes from the same inner force and don't think that anyone can really explain it. A psychologist could probably become world renowned if he/she could figure this one out.

On a side note, one public university that I can speak about personally is FSU and their use of funds from sports. They have build one of the nices stadiums in the country, but use no money from academics to improve it. Actually the stadium houses their world renowned film school, and most of the administrative offices. This is they way that the two should work together, and it is horrible that it doesn't work like that more often. Here at my grad school all of the athletic buildings are single use, although they did use them to recruit us B-school students. (They took us up to the skybox, put a spotlight on the seats that we could get which were great 1-3 row on the 30 yard line, and fed us a world class meal.) I think they use these tactics as a dual purpose role, they attract students by showing them the skybox which if we are successfull we will be able to buy seats in, then they also show us that we should donate to the football program if we can afford it. Personally I would much rather donate to the college I am in rather than the football program since I have been recieving a world class education, but I know that many will donate to athletics rather than edducation.

"Don't take offense-that last jibe was aimed at my own ego, not you-but I am adding you as friend."

I'm not offended. You have been added to my list as well. It's nice to run into someone on /. that doesn't want to just flame someone because they dissagree. Debate is the only way, and if that can't solve a difference of opinion it is always respectable to agree to disagree.

Unsightly truth (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16171115)

Unfortunately, sports brings in far more money for schools and universities than academics.

Re:Unsightly truth (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171611)

Plus, a computer lab doesn't show anything for the tax payers. I really doubt a city council would like to show the tax payers that the city spent $800,000 on a single computer lab, whereas a new athletic facility is big and flashy.

As to the original question, you may be able to use a local community college to get the classes you want. I know my high school offered that. If you have a cool teacher and aren't a douchebag student, you might be able to convince your school administrators that you can self-teach a class and still get credit for it.

Example: my senior year of high school, I took 5 AP courses and created a 6th and 7th class where I taught myself C. The teacher had no idea what I was doing. I was graded mostly on self-evaluation and brief papers I had to turn in weekly describing what I did. The other class was rebuilding and managing the school website with the school librarian, also largely self-graded.

You may have to create your own options if your school won't provide them.

high schools? (1)

jbellis (142590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172657)

I'm pretty sure sports only actually *make* money at the college level. And maybe some high schools in Texas. :)

glib, but truthful advice. (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171117)

> How can I encourage my district to provide more technology classes?

You can't. Even if you could, the changes would happen long after you've left.

> If I can't get technology education in school, then what would be the best way
> to teach myself?"

Pick something you want to learn. Download it, RTFM, and play with it.

You'll have better luck if you have a concrete objective in mind, i.e. learn about databases by setting up a simple database to track your comic book collection, run queries against it, make a PHP front end to search it etc.

Re:glib, but truthful advice. (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171367)

By the by if you do set up a database with a web front end to track your comic collection make sure you don't tell anyone, it may cause your social standing to be reduced - and next the only things girls will want to talk to you about is when you can come over and fix their PC...

(Its OK you get the last laugh when you employ all your old school mates as cleaners, pool attendants and chauffeurs when you hit the big time..)

Re:glib, but truthful advice. (2, Interesting)

A Brand of Fire (640320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171703)

Pick something you want to learn. Download it, RTFM, and play with it.

You'll have better luck if you have a concrete objective in mind, i.e. learn about databases by setting up a simple database to track your comic book collection, run queries against it, make a PHP front end to search it etc.

I went to high school in a very small town (less than 2,500 registered) in a relatively poor Bible Belt county. Athletics and religion were the primary focuses of the education they offered. In fact, one of my teachers in particular, a world history/economics/law and government/civil studies teacher, had this strange notion of relating every facet of history, science or government to the bible or biblical scripture, often when it would have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter at hand. Now, I'm not one against people's varying religious or spiritual practices, but such a blatant and patented disregard for objectivity in lieu of personal belief was simply unacceptable in a teacher.

Basically, if it didn't have anything to do with God or the football team, there was a good chance it wasn't going to receive much attention from the upper-echelon, let alone the school board.

That was only one of many differences I had with the local establishment and, as misfortune would have it, the method you've recommended was something I had to apply to my general education, not just my education in technology. In the sphere of technology education, I mean, we at least had effing LOGO classes when I was in second grade (in the next county over), and we got time every week to program in BASIC on the Apple IIe. In my high school, we didn't even have a computer lab until my last year, and even then it was used only for the computer club, which met twice every nine weeks.

The state of general education in the US is pitiable at best and my high school's abilities to meet my learning requirements directly reflect that. While I'd like to say that it was only a singular representation, it's far more widespread than that and to greater degrees both above and below the thin bracket of average educational competency.

The system couldn't meet my needs as an adolescent of above-average intelligence, and in the end it was up to me and my parents to request that I—an underage student at the time—use a county-based program normally allocated for dropouts to get their high school diplomas without having to resort to a GED. Though I graduated and got a diploma from my high school, I was lucky that such a loophole existed.

A lot of kids, both of above-average and below-average intelligence have special learning needs, none of which are met by the system currently in place. And with the increasing proliferation of technology into all areas of our lives, education in this field is becoming especially important.

So you or your parents taking your education into your own hands is probably the best advice to be given at the moment. Well, that and contacting county, state, and federal government representatives in regards to education reform because local bureaucrats and school board officials aren't liable to do much of anything.

Re:glib, but truthful advice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16172749)

How true Clover... how true. The semester I left HS, they got new terminals, and the semester I left College, they mase the whole campus wireless.

I guess the morale is: Trying is the first step torwards failure.

Petitions (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171137)

The only way I can think of is to petition the school. Just tell a bunch of people that the school has determined that they don't need classes that for people going into technologies. Spin it so that it looks like the school is forcing students to lose their chances into colleges and such. Spin the stadium to the effect that they spent all this money on it, but when someone wants to learn how to work with/on it, they won't spend a dime.

After you get the petition going, attend a district meeting and speak up about it. Just keep pissing and moaning. Eventually, people will listen.

Get Real (5, Interesting)

agent dero (680753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171149)

I graduated from a small town high school in south texas, and the district was pretty damn broke when I left it, but our atheletic facilities were pretty decent.

Keep in mind most southern schools have "Booster Clubs" which are responsible most of the time for raising funds for the sports specifically. The only "booster club" for academics comes straight out of the general budget for the district. Meanwhile, you've got a bunch of meat heads washing cars, taking donations, etc, in a town full of people who are more than willing to fork over money for their friday night football game.

In most districts (i have lived in), sports and education are on different budgets.

Re:Get Real (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171489)

Keep in mind most southern schools have "Booster Clubs"...

Did members of said club go on to be active political party supporters (left or right)?

Re:Get Real (1)

thephotoman (791574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172467)

Booster clubs are usually parent groups.

That said, most of the booster clubs in my area tend to go right, but that's just the fact that I live in surburban Texas, smack dab in the middle of the Devil's Own Country.

The Dillinger Answer and the Math Answer (2, Interesting)

fishdan (569872) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171667)

You don't need any financial resources to learn computer science, except for a teacher.
We now know that electronic technology has no more to contribute to computing than the physical equipments. We now know that programmable computer is no more and no less than an extremely handy device for realizing any conceivable mechanism without changing a single wire, and that the core challenge for computing science is hence a conceptual one, viz. what (abstract) mechanisms we can conceive without getting lost in the complexities of our own making.

E.W. Dijkstra

If you really want to learn computer science, tell your math teachers you want a class like this one [umb.edu] or one on the Theory of Computation [amazon.com] . Make sure you tell them you want to learn the pumping lemma! Computer Science is Math. If you want to learn about COMPUTERS, as opposed to computer science, then you don't want to learn computer science, you want to learn IT. If you want to learn to program, just pick up any "learn bad coding habits in 24 days" book, and get cracking. I personally recommend letting C be your first language, because you'll think everything else is so much nicer after that.

As far as money goes, when John Dillinger was asked why he robbed banks, he said "because that's where the money is."

The reason football teams have booster clubs is because they work. The same thing will work for high tech, and they have more money. Try to get some local company with smart people to get involved. They will have financial resources and expertise that you don't. I answered an ad in the local newspaper to help the students at my local high school organize a computer club. Organize the club, get local businesses to contribute, get local developers/database guys to come and lecture. Pretty soon, you'll have a club with enough going on to ask for a real class.

The club also answers your question: "If I can't get technology education in school, then what would be the best way to teach myself?" Working on learning something with a group is a great way to learn things. Get the club going, and then say "this month we're going to learn foobar!"

You're on your way.

Re:The Dillinger Answer and the Math Answer (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172811)

ad in the local newspaper to help the students at my local high school organize a computer club. Organize the club, get local businesses to contribute,
This sounds good! You'll be doing a lot of legwork, but that's healthy experience for later in life too, and it looks good on a college admissions questionnaire.

Don't forget to document the whole experience. Keep notes on who you talked to, and what sort of support or advice they offered. When you get the club off the ground and the local newspaper wants to do a story on it, you'll want to be able to give proper, specific credit to the people who helped you out. Once you get a little media attention, it should be easier to go in front of the school board and say "Okay, here's what we've been able to do on our own. How about a little official support, maybe a classroom?"

Once you have a space to use, look at expanding into networking. A closet full of old networking hardware can be valuable if someone's studying for a CCNA, and you know the media loves the C-word. I'm sure you can find someone in the community who got their cert recently and still has a toy lab full of equipment. More press! You'll be the pride of the district! Don't step on any toes here.

Re:The Dillinger Answer and the Math Answer (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16173241)

The quote "Because that's where the money is" is usually attributed to Willie Sutton not John Dillinger. But at least one source [banking.com] says that Willie claims it was actually a reporter who came up with the witty response.

Re:Get Real (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16177463)

Meanwhile, you've got a bunch of meat heads washing cars, taking donations, etc,
Maybe the silicon heads could wash some cars too? Who knows, some of those football donations might turn into chess club donations. Last I heard, my head was made of meat too, though you'd risk Kuru (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuru_(disease) [wikipedia.org] ) were you to eat it.

What "technology classes" do you want? (4, Insightful)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171179)

How can I encourage my district to provide more technology classes? If I can't get technology education in school, then what would be the best way to teach myself?"

Well, you'll need to define what "technology classes" you want before you get the school board or most of us to listen to you. Do you want an "Intro to PowerPoint" class? Programming classes? Computer hardware classes? Actually, 'technology' could mean anything, not just computers. What are your goals? Be more specific.

My school district recently built a brand new football stadium and athletics field-house, both with state of the art electronics; yet when asked about implementing a computer science class district officials reply with, 'This is a property poor school district.' Apparently property poor school districts have 20 foot plasma scoreboards and multi-million dollar athletic training facilities. As a pubescent high school student, I'm not very happy with the way my district spends the money my parents pay for my education.

BTW, whining about money spent on athletics isn't the best way to get the school board to listen to you, although I'm sure you'll get lots of sympathetic responses here. High school football is a really big deal to most kids and parents so it will always be funded at a much higher level than classes. Forget about trying to take money away from athletics and put it into education. Your best bet is to make a compelling case for why your school needs a class on X and bring it to the school board. If they are convinced of its importance, they'll find a way to come up with the money. Trust me on this: complaining about something that is very popular will cause people to stop listening to you.

I'm not trying to be hard on you, but saying you want money allocated for something specific (scoreboard) to be divered to something nebulous (technology classes) just isn't going to work. You need to say exactly what classes are necessary and then provide compelling arguments why they are needed so badly.

Good luck, Kid. I'm not a fan of technology in the classroom at all, but I don't want my personal opinions to get in the way of advising you. If you want to fight for this, fine. Just be a bit more cautious about how you go about it.

GMD

Gifts & school programs (2, Informative)

jaredmauch (633928) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171189)

This is nothing new nor shocking. People will donate money to all sorts of causes that they consider valuable. For people here, it may be open source projects. For other slices of society it may be sports. The sad state of this situation is that people will donate millions of dollars for projects like improving stadiums but finding a similar donation to a library or technology funds are not as easy to come by.

It's easy to see that your team is winning by having the best technology and edging out another school with every advantage that you can get. Investing in the students themselves is always a complicated situation and the results tend to be poor.

What you should do is go to the public comment period of your next school board meeting and ask if matching funds were put into classroom improvement for each dollar spent on improvement of the sports program, and are they willing to stipulate some sort of matching dollars ratio for classroom improvement in the future. Don't expect 1:1, but if you even had 5:1 (sports:classroom) I suspect the improvement would be significant. There's also a sustainability aspect. If I write a check for $1m to my local school for a new stadium, they may already have the budget for maintence of it set aside. The operation expenses, training, etc.. for a new computer lab is not insignificant, think about the power consumption of all the lightbulbs in a classroom compared to 25 computers with 400w power supplies, a few laser printers, etc.. The electric bill may surprise you.

But honestly, this is an excercise in your civic duties (you can even get extra credit if you're taking a government class), attend the meetings, as booring as they may seem, you may be able to create some impact. You may be able to convince those that do attend the meetings and vote for your local school board that these things have value to them as well and see things change, perhaps not while you're still there but for others.

Re:Gifts & school programs (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171789)

400W PSUs don't really draw 400W. That's just their max, a maximum that will NEVER be reached. In reality, a 20 machine lab, air conditioning and lighting costs including will only cost about $300-$400 per month, in the summer. $200 or so in the winter. That's about the same as the cost for the football stadium's lighting, assuming they use the lights once per month. The cost of lighting would be probably be the biggest surprise to most people.

Ha! (3, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171213)

Same crap when I was in high school, exactly the same, back when we had pet saber toothed badgers and rode sliderules to school, both ways, uphill in the snow. This is the US, where professional sports rule, and the schools are the tax payer funded farm teams, even though they will never admit it.

Here's the sucky part-it isn't fixable. It's been tried. Bread and circuses (the gladiator games, etc) is an established technique that keeps the plebes occupied and ye overlordes in power (helps them anyway), so it isn't going away, the fix is in. It's just not, so no sense beating yourself up over it. Work around it. The best you can do is self education as much as possible, and work with any understanding teachers (there should be a few who "get it")and groups of friends (rocket club, computer club, whatever).

    As to getting your hands on tech..you own a computer, or can you get a box full of odd parts? Swell. A car (any old junker is fine) with an engine and transmission and probably a comlicated electronic system? Swell. Some radios and other odd electronic stuff? Swell.

and etc.

Now, go tear that crap completely apart and put it back together again *better* than it was before. Not just the same, *better*. See what you can come up with, little tweaks and twists and mods and enhancements. You won't get any grades on it, but you for sure will get an education that is practical. You'll learn to think in steps and sequences, you'll get discipline and focus. That is what is important. It will carry over to about any other job you might get.

Gladiator games for nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16192509)

I'm all for combining nerdy technical skills with gladiator games. Seriously, if the original poster is going to start tearing up equipment and putting it back together, or building stuff from spare parts, why not build a battle-bot? If he or she can get together with a bunch of like-minded students, maybe they could start a club and build several battle-bots. Then all they have to do is convince the school principal to let the club have robot battles out on the football field during half-time. It would draw attention to what students can do with technical knowledge and the right equipment. And it would be really cool if the school band would play that fight music from Star Trek during the robot battles! 50 Quatloos on the Droid of Death!

very good! (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16195713)

nice idea really and would be quite the local spectacle. Expensive as in a lot of smashed equipment, but save it for homecoming or something and it would showcase nerd power.

My suggestions (4, Interesting)

linguae (763922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171217)

My first suggestion is to find some other students at your school interested in computer science. A school isn't going to add a computer science course unless there is a sizable amount of students who are interested. After you find other interested students, get a proposal for a new class going. Get a few signatures of students and parents (and maybe some interested teachers) and take it to the principal's office (or whomever else deals with course offerings). If it works, then great. If not, then try again next year.

In the meanwhile, I suggest that you read Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs [mit.edu] . This is the book that is used for the freshman computer science class at MIT. Find yourself a Scheme interpreter (and maybe even invest some time into learning Unix and maybe installing Linux or BSD if you're a Windows user. Unix, not Windows, is the main operating system used in computer science.). This book can get difficult, but you'll be very knowledgeable about the true meaning of computer science via that book. Then, after reading and finishing that book, then move on to learning C (for structured programming) and C++ or Java (for OO programming). Now that you have the theoretical background of programming understood, now you should learn some practical programming languages that you'll use for upper-division CS courses (operating systems, software engineering, systems programming, and the like) and in future industry jobs or research.

Finally, during your junior year of high school, start finding some good CS schools to apply to. MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of Texas at Austin, Harvey Mudd, and others that I've forgot now are very good undergraduate computer science schools. These schools are challenging enough to fully teach you computer science and prepare you for either a career in software engineering and development, or a research career.

I wish you a successful start in computer science.

Re:My suggestions (1)

blanktek (177640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171339)

I will agree with parent. However, take a look at

http://www.htdp.org/2003-09-26/Book/ [htdp.org]

This is in the same spirit as Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs but more appropriate for beginning computer programming. Scheme is a good choice so download DrScheme and have fun!

Do well in your math and science coursework now and get into a good CS program when you are out of high school.

If only I got this advice in high school.

Re:My suggestions (1)

supremegeekoverlord (787205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172531)

Excellent advice. Even I'll find it useful, as I'm at that age now. As for SelfTaught -- well, just remember your name. I go to a relatively small school whose only "technology" course on the proper use of Microsoft Office (taught by someone whose only experience is reading the textbook), so I feel for you. However, you have to realize that most of those who are truly interested in technology (specifically CS) are dedicated and smart enough to learn it for themselves. In all honesty, those who don't meet those requirements are probably just in it for the money and will most end up as freelance coders for the benefit of The Daily WTF [thedailywtf.com] readers.

And like others have said, don't complain about funding for athletics, especially if you want to get anything done. Personally, I would much rather have a new football field than a pseudo-CS course taught by an inept instructor. Of course, I might be biased considering that I love (and play) football and other sports.

Anyway, I'm done ranting. Good luck with your efforts. It's great to hear about people that are in the same situations as me -- it gradually deflates my ego. ;)

Don't Cross the Streams! (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171265)

In many areas, you have separate school district budgets and funding sources for General Administration (read: teacher salaries, supplies, etc.) vs. Capital Improvements (read: building repair/expansion). I know in Indiana over the last few years, some ridiculous football scoreboards and basketball arenas were built, because the schools had a glut in the Capital budget but were constrained in the General Administration area.

Changing those funding sources and spending controls is a long-term affair, and not easily done.

The other factor here is private donation - to be sure, there are a lot of people out there who will easily drop down $$$ for a new football facility, but bitch & moan if a tax hike is proposed to bring in more/better staff. On the other hand, you have donors like the local car dealership, who drops down a few thousand in exchange for some advertising space or something similar. Perhaps something like that could be leveraged on the General Administrative side of the budget - say, a Microsoft-sponsored computer science class? Nobody here would object to that, right?

Re:Don't Cross the Streams! (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16182993)

Perhaps something like that could be leveraged on the General Administrative side of the budget - say, a Microsoft-sponsored computer science class? Nobody here would object to that, right?
Why MS? There are plenty of bussinesses in each city and some of those would be willing to aid. For example, a company replaces its computers and the old ones get donated to a local school. For many bussinesses these are machines not much older than 3 to 4 years. Those are perfect for a whole lot of classes. Pretty much all software is freely available, either through open source or through donations.

It doesn't hurt to try ofcourse, but I suppose MS will get a whole lot of request for free computer classes and their budget is pretty limited for such expenses. On the other hand local companies benefit from such donation through advertisement and tax reductions. It's business. They give you something and you give them something. Advertisement and tax-reduction instead of having to pay for disposal of old hardware is always intresting.

The Internet? (2, Insightful)

d3ik (798966) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171267)

I'm a few years ahead of you (class of 2001) and I share your pain. While my school did have a few computers and a programming class, it was horribly outdated. The problem with the school systems is (obviously?) the administrators. Even as they throw out all the buzzwords for the parents about how "technology friendly" they are, they will always spend more on asthetics because they relate how they run their schools with their own high school experience. When I say asthetics, that's something that they can show parents and other school administrators to show what a great school they have. That can be a football stadium, new cafeteria, whatever. If you just look at how much money goes into a football team, for instance: stadium, equipment, extra pay for coaches, transportation for away games, maintenance, insurance... it really is staggering. And what educational value does football provide? Absolutely nothing aside from a little "school spirit".

Anyway, off my soap box about schools... what can you do about it? I seriously doubt you're going to change the culture of your school or how they spend money. More power to you for trying, and I'd be highly impressed if you did it... I just don't think it's going to happen. Sorry. What you do have is this incredible collection of knowledge known as the Internet. Pick a programming language. Almost any modern language you pick has an open source equivalent (at some level) that you can play around with at home. Even Microsoft has student/free editions of a lot of their tools. I wanted to build web applications (remember, I started high school in 1997) so I started with what I thought was the easiest and most popular web development language: PHP. Now, almost ten years later I know or have at least played with: C/C++, Python, PHP, Ruby (RoR), C# and what makes me money: Java.

You're the master of your own destiny and being in school you typically have a lot of free time to devote to playing with new languages and getting your feet wet. My advice is to find people that are like you, I gurantee there are at least a handful at your school, and team up with them. Pick an application that you want to build and a language you want to build it in and just dive in. Who knows, you could be the next Google.

I did exactly what I described above when I was in high school. Unfortunately all the cool software development I was doing distracted from school, so I ended up barely graduating with a 1.9GPA. It's hard to focus on worksheets and study guide busy work (all copied from the Addison Wesley material anyway) when you're going home and building all these really cool things. But using everything I had learned working at my own pace with my friends I'm now 23, own my own home and make around $70k a year. Screw school, do it your own way.

In with a BT, out with a donation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16171279)

"How can I encourage my district to provide more technology classes?"

Well I have all this money I saved from downloading movies, music, games, software, and books. I'll be happy to donate to a good cause.

Find a mentor (1)

mswope (242988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171289)

You probably can't change the school district as a whole, but you might be able to start a group/club or something. If you start such a group, you'll get a whole lot more support if you can find a mentor - perhaps a teacher who has an interest in what you want to learn. That mentor would have a bit more pull and better ideas of how to get funding and resources to help your club if it is not a huge liability or burden to the school.

Back when I was in high school (a LONG time ago), the only reason we had a programming class was a teacher volunteered to teach a group of us. We couldn't afford a Fortran compiler for the PDP-11, so he bought a textbook and taught us on the board. We hand wrote our code and he did a vis-grep on it to see if we were going in the right direction. Our school didn't have a calculus program until a teach volunteered to teach a group of us. This was after he agreed to teach a single student in parallel with another class (the guy sat in the back and essentially studied by himself, with the teacher "guiding" his studies.

Be willing to heft some of the load yourself, find like-minded students that can be trusted to commit and seek a faculty sponsor. And, be clear about what you want to do - "having a computer club" is a bit vague compared to having a "mysql" seminar series...

school board meetings (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171343)

Did you ever consider going to school board meetings and bringing this up or passing petitions around? Get enought students/parents interested and maybe the school board will hear the people..and if not, well aren't the school board advisors voted in?

Re:school board meetings (1)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172093)

This is about the best suggestion I've seen in this topic. Don't like the priorities of the administration? That's why schools are run by elected officials.

As it so happens, school board elections (especially in non-urban districts) have extremely low turnout - meaning that's it's not especially difficult to replace a sitting board member with a concerted effort.

When I was in high school, many of the faculty were upset over the priorities of the board (which, as I recall, was filled with the non-working wives of the wealthier citizens of the town of about 25,000 people). So they staged a coup and managed to kick the board chair from office by having a stealth write-in campaign - all it took was a few hundred write in votes and she lost. That's how low the turnout is in those elections, especially when the board members on the ballot appear to be running unopposed.

Now, that's not going to fix your problem with technology classes, but if you think athletics is getting over-prioritized it's a great topic to discuss with the local board.

Re:school board meetings (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172241)

Maybe not a complete fix, but it is indeed a step in the right direction. Let's face it. Technology isn't going away. To teach students in high school as en elective A+ certifcation or Network Design or even getting a MCP cert (LPI would be great, but eh, let's be realistice here) would be great. More importantly it would help these kids when they get to college because they could get a job in a tech field even as if it's a help desk job or techie somwhere because you have the cert and some experience.

Attend School Board Meetings (2, Insightful)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171381)

...if you can. Assuming it's not a private high school, that is.

Organize your statements, as previous posters have said--define what is "technology", have concrete proposals ready.

Prepare possible cost breakdowns.

Compare science programs of other schools, communities, school districts.

Appeal to patriotism (cheap, but hey, it's America.) Sputnik caused a boom in American science education, and ChinaIndiaRussia are in the process of blowing America out of the water.

Use sound economic logic (i.e. it's a gift that keeps on giving through alumni donations, it profiles our schools as academic powerhouses and makes it more desirable to academics, it results in statistically higher admissions to good engineering schools, whatever--do research.)

Try to engage corporate sponsorship--write letters to companies like HP, Sun, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, etc., they have entire departments devoted to creating PR through this sort of thing. Also, corporate matching funds tend to motivate people to spend public money.

Try to contact your school board reps directly, organized like-minded friends in a letter-writing campaign. Get your and their parents involved as well.

Get PR--write letters to the editor of your local paper, try to get someone to cover the story with a slant. "Schools neglecting science and technology education in favor of jocks" sells papers.

As for yourself? The truth is out there. You have a PC, an Internet connection and some equally interested friends? Start a club, start reading and hacking, and you're off.

Who needs CLASSES? (1)

MaliciousSmurf (960366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171387)

My high school had an annual budget $17 million, and they don't offer tech classes either. I asked why, and the explanation was as follows: It was a college prep school, and colleges prefer that students DO NOT take compsci classes because often times the information can be out dated. I took matters into my own hands. You get alot more out of learning by doing, and you often learn faster, and with greater depth and more knowledge of what is important. How do you learn Linux? Install it on your main computer and use it. How do you learn XYZ programming language? Come up with a project and do it (this leads to more projects, which leads to more understanding, which leads to more projects, etc.) Any question of the above sort? Do it.

Re:Who needs CLASSES? (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171541)

And your school is 100% correct. It's much better to build nice athletic facilities (that can last 20+ years) than to waste money on computers that will need to be replaced in a year or two. Not to mention, you don't need to be learning to program in high school. Focus on math and science instead, it's far more useful than learning a skill that will be obsolete in a few years. Complaining that the school doesn't offer programming classes is like complaining that they don't teach you how to repair cars. Programming is a specialized skill that cannot be properly taught in a school setting.

Re:Who needs CLASSES? (1)

sgent (874402) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171811)

Yes and no.

Learning excel/word/etc -- what is commonly considered "computer sci" is a waste of time. Learning actual computer science -- alogorithms, logic, etc -- doesn't even require a computer, much an up to date one. You can learn computer science on a chalk board and with a proto language.

Athletics are irrelevent (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171459)

Money for HS athletic equipment often comes from sponsors (like the ubiquitous Coke scoreboards) and ticket sales (my high school pulled in probably around $20000/week during football season). So you can't really ask that that money be used for other purposes.

OTOH, the only real expense of adding a CS class is a teacher. A new computer lab isn't necessary; you can learn all the basic principles of programming on the kind of old computers that people give away. But the school isn't gonna teach a class for one person, so you need to get together a class's worth of kids interested in taking CS, and then seeing if your school will offer the course (especially possible if there's already someone qualified to teach it).

If not, try taking classes at a local college (or community college). Some high schools will let you do so during school hours, but you might be forced to go at night if your school is particuarly pig-headed.

Funding HOWTO (2, Insightful)

ddt (14627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171521)

I went to Highland Park High School in Dallas. Very similar situation. I would later end up one of the coders on Doom & Quake, so you can imagine my frustration at the time. HPHS is a public school but with generally very wealthy kids, a football stadium that was truly a spectacle of steel reinforced concrete and civil engineering, a famously disciplined football program, and a super-lame lab with virtually useless PC's and one programming class taught in Pascal or Basic, if I recall. As a result, I basically held my breath until Dad bought me an Apple //e, which really served as my primary education and social experience until I outgrew Applesoft and 6502 asm somewhere in my junior or senior year and started going to my Dad's office so I could learn C on his PC.

Here's the trick. Wish I had known it then. The football budget came from donors, and that's basically the answer to your question. The stadium and the atheletic raquetball and other stuff thingy building, were named after the big donor who plunked down millions. That's the ticket.

What I suggest you do is learn something about business development, which is the kung fu required to land great facilities of any kind, because unlike the programming language, API's, and OS du jour that will be a useful tool to you for a healthy 5-10ish years, savvy business development never goes out of style, and will actually help you land a fully funded, sweetly decked out lab, along with great courses.

The proper approach will depend very much upon the specifics of your situation, who you know (both students and adults), and your various superpowers. If you want me to help you figure out The Path, drop me a line, and I'll see if I can be useful.

Check out open courseware (1)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171569)

I feel for you, high schools are most not focused on this problem. Most of the classes you want are probably in college. Get good grades and high SAT score so you can get into the college of your choice, hopefully with a scholarship. This is really important.

Until then, several of the really good colleges have open courseware that you should start working with in your spare time:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare [mit.edu]

Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon [cmu.edu]

Take your education into your own hands (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171619)

If I can't get technology education in school, then what would be the best way to teach myself?
If you're that dedicated, and you have the time to spare, you might want to look into a vocational / technical school or taking classes at the local community college. Both generally offer night classes, which you could take after school. Of course, this also depends on how heavy your school workload is and how active your social life is. Still, a community college night class two times a week might be enough for you to get your fill without totally destroying your schedule.

A possible solution (1)

zip0nada (883919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171797)

I am also a high-school student faced with such a predicament. My school just added a huge fitness center, a new sports field, and a new softball field. All amidst huge district budget cutbacks that have forced us to turn down the heat during the winter, and consider cutting classes such as Applied Physics and Auto Shop. But there is a golden light among all of this, This year our school became one of the first in Illinois to offer courses from the Project Lead the Way Foundation . Forty-eight of my fellow students and I are now enrolled in the entry-level course called Introduction to Engineering. We can earn up to three collage hours, and the program offers up to six courses over three years and covers many different areas of engineering. Unfortunately for you they don't really offer computer science classes, but it is a technology and academics related class that may get the district's attention.

P.S. Some previous posts mentioned how a computer science class may suffer from small interest. At my school, the Project Lead the Way class had over one hundred fifty applicants. So many in fact that the teacher has decided to increase the number of people accepted next year from forty-nine to seventy by adding extra classes.

Local college (1)

generationxyu (630468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16171833)

If your high school won't offer technology classes, see if you can get credit for taking them at a local college. A community college would be fine, for introductory classes. Encourage like-minded peers to do the same. If enough kids do this, your school district will be inclined to offer such classes. A kid a few years older than me did this at my high school, and singlehandedly created the computer science program at my school. I was lucky enough to be a few years younger, so I could reap the benefits of this.

Olin College! (1)

Suertreus (946768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172329)

Do what I did: Take AP CS on your own. Then be sure to apply to Olin College [olin.edu] . It's lots of fun, admission comes with a full-tuition scholarship for everyone, and we take innovative, world-class technology classes every day. Oh, and since there are only about 300 students, we don't really have X-inch plasma screens at our football stadium. Neither do we have a football stadium.

Shameless pitches aside, I'm afraid many American high schools like yours and mine simply won't offer worthwhile technology courses until it's too late - not just for you and me, but for lots of young /.ers. I remember feeling exactly as you did about sports vs. academics in HS, and worrying about the same thing coming into college. As so many previous posters have pointed out, although there's not much you or I can do in the short term about that sort of imbalance, it's not truly as harmful to the academic side of most schools as it may seem. Schools generally budget the athletic department separately, and those departments (especially in colleges) often pay for themselves with ticket sales and athletics-specific fundraising. Do what you can toward learning technology / computer science in HS (i.e. independent study, college courses, joint enrollment, etc.), but don't feel bad if you don't get away with much technology coursework under your belt; at the very least you'll be in good company when you get to college and start learning what you really want to learn. It may not be the best way to run a national educational institution, but (as always) the really bright folks don't depend on the educational experience as much as the sort of middle bracket on which America is losing so much ground to the rest of the world.

Good luck, and keep Olin in mind when college app time rolls around =).

Fighting decades of tradition (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172497)


Want to make decent money in a high school? Be the football coach. And traditionally they'll only make you teach some "worthless" class like history or civics. My world history teacher was the wrestling coach. He'd frequently need a mid-class break to take a couple puffs on a cigar and the school let him get away with it.

One of our suburban high schools build an olympic regulation pool. Now they bitch there isn't any money for basics.

What are you going to do when American education has local control and it's treated like a game?

Say a big game, but.... (1)

TenBrothers (995309) | more than 7 years ago | (#16172897)

I'm sure 99% or so of the comments on this thread will be about how sports get all the money and the tech classrooms don't get squat blah blah blah.

I propose everyone who is complaining about how crappy things were in their school also post how much money or time (or both!) they've since given to their school to improve conditions.

*cue cricket noises*

In a more positive vein, an earlier poster said to get up, get out there, bang the drum for donations, document everything, and so forth. That's the best comment in the history of slashdot. The only thing I could add to it would be to push it through a business class and use that class time to write up a business plan to create a non-profit to funnel donations to technology-based schools using that very plan of action.

Get government out of education. (1)

genrader (563784) | more than 7 years ago | (#16174377)

Simplest answer.

How to learn 'technology' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16174861)

Well, the long and short answer...

Short: as others have said, teach yourself. There are tons of free online resources where you can learn, experiment, and interact with others. Some great starting points are the Wikipedia Subject sections, and MITs open learning websites.

Long answer: Sue.
Semantically, this may be shorter, but it will probably take longer than you are in high school. I am always hearing about lawsuits involving education and property use.
IANAL!
Some things from these cases - 'Mt.Laurel decisions', 'Abbott Districts' - instruct that it is up to the State to make sure that every student is given an adequate eduation.
If you can find some way that another school district offers something you don't get; sue them to get what is equitable. (Then setlle for what you really want.)
If you can't use the fields/ swimming pool / other resources - complain openly to your government >US Senators, state legislators, county, city.. etc. about how your family's tax dollars are being abused. Again, you can probably sue. I'm farily sure these "park/facility is only for local resident use" laws can only be applied if no money comes from tax dollars. With school resources, 'reasonable' use should not be denied. You may have to sue them to force the authority to acknowledge that fact. Now, if there are regularly scheduled practices & games - and groundskeepers aren't working 24/7.. then they are reasonable to restrict field use during the season.
That doesn't mean they won't be embarassed if a TV-News reporter shows a mega-huge$$$ jumbo-tron right outside a school with falling ceiling tiles.

Sue. If nothing else, being involved in a lawsuit will show you how things really get done in this democracy of ours. It should be a somewhat painful eye-opener - and it could last you 10 years or more. That could be a real lesson.

It the teachers.... (1)

stonewolf (234392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16176259)

You are focusing on the wrong problem. It isn't football versus academics. As other have pointed out they are in different budgets. In the south if you don't have football you might not even have a school. I live in a property rich school district (Round Rock ISD in central Texas). They just spent 26 million dollars out of a 16 million dollar budget to build a new football temple. OTOH, they do have some technology courses and even an Information Technology Academy magnet school. They also happen to have thousands (tens of thousands) of high tech people living in the district.

But here is the problem. Where do you get teachers qualified to teach this subject? The starting salary for a teacher with a degree in computer science is the same as the starting salary for a teacher with a degree in underwater basket weaving, about 35,000 per year. The bonus for having a graduate degree is only a few hundred dollars per year. No work other than teaching in a public school is counted as experience so not matter what you have done you start at the bottom. You have to pay for a fair amount of schooling on top of your degree(s) to get a teaching certificate. You even have to pay to work for them for your first semester, its called student teaching.

I know all this because I have been going through it. I have a masteres in CS and 30+ year exerience in "technology". I'm 99% done with the course work needed to get a teaching certificate and have passed the (joke of a) test to be certified to teach computer science in Texas. Now that I am at the point where I can apply for teaching jobs I am finding out that schools do not want people who are experts in any subject. There aren't enough students who want these classes to justify having a full time CS teacher. A highly qualified CS or math teachers must also be highly qualified in several other areas and be willing to teach English, or shop, or be a sports coach, if they hope to get a teaching job.

The result is that people who are qualified to teach these subjects do not want to be teachers and even people who are qualified and want to teach have trouble getting jobs.

That leads to a real Catch-22. Few students want the classes, few teachers are available, therefore no classes are taught. If there were hundreds of parents (students don't really count) demanding these classes then the school would try to find a way to teach them. But, even if they want to teach them, it doesn't mean they can.

Stonewolf

P.S.

I currently teach at the college level. It is much easier to teach college than to teach in a public school.But, the problems are still there. There are very few students who what to learn hard subject like CS or IT right now.

Welcome to Democracy (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16177313)


Just who are you to question The People's desire for football stadiums?

Re:Welcome to Democracy (1)

rozz (766975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16182609)

Just who are you to question The People's desire for football stadiums?

A few hundred years ago, a guy named Galilei came and said "it is round" ... and *they* asked him a question quite like yours... in fact, they almost killed him for going against People's desire for "a flat one".

ThePeople is not the answer to everything and Democracy is far from being perfect.

As a pubescent high-school student? (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178175)

You know, that word (pubescent) is usually used as a derogatory term by older people (who presumably have completed that troubled time that is puberty), to look down upon those pesky, inconsistent youngsters who don't know what they want but keep bitching about it.

Seriously.. wtf?

Daniel

It's bad everywhere (1)

Micasa (1005751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16195289)

Here in Canada, though it's more hidden, it's just as bad. I attend trustee meetings routinely and was horrified during one meeting to hear them turn down a motion that would have provided wireless high speed Internet access to three small schools in the area, the extension of a current project. The motion was declined in favour of providing funding towards playground improvements at a local school - improvements that, it was admitted during the meeting, were not truly needed, but were just an attempt to "have a better playground" than another school. Be glad that at least the money in your case was going towards a venture that can, though it's unlikely, lead those kids to a career of some kind.

One Step at a Time (1)

Jerim (872022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16203973)

First thing to do is find out how many people share your same views. Talk to your computer teacher and see if they can help in getting together a group of students, parents and maybe even some former alumni who majored in computers at the college level. You need to know if you are the only one who cares about the issue or if there is a large cross section out there. One person isn't going to get far. A large group will get taken seriously.

Second thing, get together a list of exactly what you are asking for, with prices. If you just vaguely ask for a computer lab upgrade, those in power might assume that you are talking 10's of thousands of dollars. Spell out in detail what you want and what it will costs. Also, be willing to volunteer time to set everything up and provide tech support. That will help cut costs.

Now, take your group and your list to the principal. Don't mention the football program or any other program. The minute you play the "They get everything and we get nothing" card, you will be immediately pegged as a bunch of whiners and you are putting the principal's decisions under attack. Now he is thinking more about justifying his sports expenditures, than about giving you what you want. Just present the fact that a large group thinks that it is time for an upgrade, and you have all the details and resources to make it happen.

Assuming the Principal doesn't listen or take action, then head for the Superintendent and if he doesn't listen, then to the School Board. If all three turn you down, then there is really no much else you can do within the system. From there on out, you will have to go out side the system to hopefully apply some pressure. Contact local newspapers first, then contact some of the national news channels. Maybe someone will pick up on the story. The story may be more about you organizing a movement, than the actual computer issue. But whatever gets attention.

Thats the first step! (1)

SayHuh (967736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16286679)

I would have thought that by now this problem wouldn't still be as bad as it was 20 years ago.
I think if your looking for alternate resources to learn then you have chosen the right approach. Get out there and ask! The internet is full of information.
I read one post that said you should try to narrow down what your looking for and I agree. Technology is a term that covers a universe of opportunity. Whether you looking to learn coding, hardware, electronics circuitry, or whatever YOU find interesting.
You can also join groups of people just like yourself on the net that take on small projects in the spirit of learning. I could sit here all day and dig up links for you but I'll just offer up these.
http://www.w3schools.com/ [w3schools.com]
http://planetsourcecode.com/ [planetsourcecode.com]
Do you already know what direction you want to go in?
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