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Education The Almighty Buck Politics

Code.org Discloses Top Donors 59

Posted by timothy
from the friends-but-also-buddies dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Under the leadership of Code.org, explained the ACM, it joined CSTA, NCWIT, NSF, Microsoft and Google in an effort "to reshape the U.S. education system," including passing a federal law making Computer Science a "core subject" in schools. If you're curious about whose money helped fuel the effort, Code.org's Donors page now lists those who gave $25,000+ to $3,000,000+ to the K-12 CS cause (the nonprofit plans to raise $20-30 million for 2015-16 operations). Microsoft is at the top of the list as a Platinum Supporter ($3,000,000+), while Bill Gates is Gold ($1,000,000+), and Steve Ballmer is Silver ($500,000+). Interestingly, six of Code.org's ten biggest donors are also Founders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us tech immigration reform PAC."
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Code.org Discloses Top Donors

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  • by thebeastofbaystreet (3805781) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:29AM (#47807329) Homepage
    A cynic might say that some of the donors are not exactly disinterested parties here. I, in think in common with a lot of people on Slashdot, learned to code for the love of it and then found myself in an industry where programmers are, how should be put it gently, treated like scum? If it made good economic and social sense for parents to push their kids towards a career in coding, initiatives like this would be an irrelevance.
    • by digsbo (1292334)
      Treated like scum? I agree that I often feel that we're not treated like equals on par with management. I think we get treated better than a lot of other employee groups, though. When I think of professions I'd change places with, the list often comes up short.
      • Treated like scum? I agree that I often feel that we're not treated like equals on par with management. I think we get treated better than a lot of other employee groups, though. When I think of professions I'd change places with, the list often comes up short.

        Agreed... I worked my way up from a call center and got my education after I got my job. I'm treated like a God where I am now compared to being hourly. If you think you're treated as a slave now, that just means you've never had a "real" job. At times we get into a spat because I think something could be written better or we should spend more time on X or Y, but when I did hourly work? I wasn't allowed to speak in meetings. Much less have an opposing viewpoint. Arguing with the boss would have gotten me w

        • by Junta (36770)

          On the other hand, hourly employees are generally held to 40 hour workweeks because they get expensive beyond that.

          Frequently salaried individuals have their exempt status abused by making them work 60 or more hours a week. I personally am fortunate enough to not suffer this, but a lot of shops will burn out their coders with ever present threat of finding cheap replacements.

          • by digsbo (1292334)

            but a lot of shops will burn out their coders with ever present threat of finding cheap replacements.

            I struggle with this. I recognize my experience may be different, but we can't find qualified people when we interview. Where are these cheap replacements? Do you mean offshore (India)? Seems like my shop is run pretty lean. Yes, there are heavy weeks above 45 hours, but there are a lot of 40 hour weeks. Management seems to be aware of the fact that they're always a moment away from losing a key person. My last place did the outsource thing for a few years, until even the most boneheaded bean counters reali

    • by westlake (615356)

      In common with a lot of people on Slashdot, I earned to code for the love of it and then found myself in an industry where programmers are treated like scum

      Workers in other industries solved this problem by forming unions and building the strength and discipline needed to bargain for better wages and working conditions. The price of unionization, of course, is that you have to stop thinking of yourself as something special, and not merely an employee like any other in your company.

    • When I was young, I did landscaping - mowing, edging, laying sod, pulling stumps, and the crap jobs at construction sites, like hauling packs of tiles three floors up on ladders, to get paid $20 under the table, and 2 cans of coke (or a beer - which still tasted horrible to me, but it was a 'reward' at the age of 14).

      Then I worked selling concessions at a movie theater, which sucked. Then a lifeguard. Archery instructor. All had some fun points, but they were tiring, exhausting jobs at or near minimum wa

      • by Rob Y. (110975)

        That's all true - until some manager fails to make his numbers and attempts to blame it on poor programmer productivity. The solution: outsource the whole damn thing to a 'major outsourcing firm' that can 'shift resources at will' to attain optimal productivity.

        You end up out of a job, and the company ends up with poorly trained workers that have no depth of knowledge of the software they're supporting - and who are rotated out every 18 months so they're guaranteed never to have any depth. Plus nobody in

        • I dunno about you, but when that happens, the developers also tend to land on their feet, in a better job they didn't previously go for because they got comfy where they were. In my personal experience, devs are sort of lazy that way. They're not aware of their own value, and they don't self promote for purposes of advancing their career.

          That's not how most management types work. Their thinking is always on how to progress. They're not interested in current output, they're interested in increasing the r

          • by digsbo (1292334)
            A thousand times yes. Developers who have the social skills and risk tolerance jump periodically and do well most of the time, and quickly recover after making a mistake (the one time I stayed 14 months at a job it was a recovery step). Those without the social skills and risk tolerance whine, but don't actually take the steps needed to get ahead.
            • by Rob Y. (110975)

              You say this like it's a good thing. Sure, if you want to advance your career, you have no choice but to do a lot of job jumping (at least in the beginning). But it didn't used to be that way, and ultimately this dynamic is harmful to the products we work on. The fact that you're going to jump in 2 years just makes that worse. And, one of these days you're gonna hit 50 and find that next jump really hard to make. I'm 62 and have stuck around. Other than hating the way management views the company as i

              • by digsbo (1292334)
                Yes and no. Many developers I work with have been in one place too long, neither facing new kinds of challenges, nor growing to merit pay increases. There is a balance. Jumping every 2-3 years is probably the other extreme. 4-7 years is probably a nice sweet spot.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        True but you need to compare software professionals to other professions like the Law, Medicine or finance - if your in the uk and work in London take a trip to some of the ins of court or the City and see how the other half lives -compared to them we are treated worse even in the SV where its not quite as bad.
        • by digsbo (1292334)
          If you do that, you also have to take into account that 3 of the 5 guys on my team who are pretty good didn't need college degrees to get their jobs. We're not *really* professionals in that sense. Almost more highly skilled tradesmen, in my thinking.
          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            See there is the problem but buying into that line is allowing our " profession" to be downgraded and treated as less valuable - and these days in 2014 IT is much more a gradate entry profession that it was when I started.

            How many High school direct entrants does Google Apple and facebook take I suspect a fairly nugatory number. - Nugatory in the sense of "of no value"
            • by digsbo (1292334)
              Who says skilled trade is a downgrade from profession? You can still make the money and have the prestige. I think the problem is people who think that "professional" is better than "trade". Tradespeople make the world go around; getting past the idea that anyone other than MasterBlaster runs Bartertown is my approach to fighting my way up.
              • by mjwalshe (1680392)
                Sorry have you gone outside in the real world tell most people you are an engineer and they think you are car mechanic and money prestige do you not understand the class system - and yes America does have class system.

                I fielded a call for my dad one time they wanted someone to wire a house I had to explain no he's an EE and is currently consulting for London underground on the tube HVAV power upgrades
                • by digsbo (1292334)

                  You make some assumptions, which is fair, but please read my interesting story, and I hope you enjoy it:

                  Years ago I played in a fairly successful private event band; we did society parties in and around Philadelphia. One gig we showed up to was at an estate where the driveway was about 1/4 mile long. Realized that the valets refused to help our black musicians park/unload, but offered for us. That was clue number 1 (fyi we all unloaded and parked our own stuff). Clue two was constantly being shushed even t

                  • by digsbo (1292334)

                    Also note, my father owned his own mechanical business and was hands-on to the point of often coming home cut/bruised/covered in filth. We were one of 2 or 3 families of maybe 30 on the street who weren't what you might call "professional class". I really never experienced any classist behavior from the doctors/lawyers/executives on the street or their families, and to this day have never heard anyone in my family say it ever happened. Maybe my experience is unique, but I don't think it was, not for the tim

  • by anthony_greer (2623521) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:44AM (#47807475)

    Companies dont like to pay $100k+ for top talent so if they can get every high schooler to take CS classes, at least a percentage of them will become coders and will gladly take jobs at a fraction of the price and drive the prices down for salaries. The code will be crap but that wont matter because who needs it to be efficient when we can just toss a couple more CPUs at the problem...

    Want to improve the k-12 education? stop building near NFL like football stadiums and bring back music, art and other creative type classes. Stop forcing everyone to be either a Jock or a STEM student.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      You are half right, but utterly delusional for the rest.

      An increase in competent available programmers will surely drive down the salaries of developers. Look at game dev's. They're often payed significantly less and work them dry because game companies know there will always be the next great fool to jump into the deep and and work then next set of recruits dry. With greater supply comes less demand, and ultimately that's the start and end to the discussion. There's no need to over-describe your nefarious

    • Companies dont like to pay $100k+ for top talent

      Companies will pay $100K for top talent if they cannot get it elsewhere for less. Companies care about the productivity in relation to the cost. Companies want value for money. If they can get the most value for money by paying one guy very handsomely then they will do that. The question is what you are doing to bring value to the table?

      Want to improve the k-12 education? stop building near NFL like football stadiums and bring back music, art and other creative type classes. Stop forcing everyone to be either a Jock or a STEM student.

      I coach a high school team so I get to see the budget allocated to athletics. Athletic budgets in virtually all high schools account for somewhere between 0.7% and 1.6%

    • +5 mod this up, excellent post.

      The code will be crap but that wont matter because who needs it to be efficient when we can just toss a couple more CPUs at the problem...

      Unfortunately, this is the way it is now, and has been for some time.
      CPU's are getting faster, programs are getting slower. In essence its pointless to make new programs when previous programs can do it more efficiently with alot more stability.

      Goes without saying, bad code using a substandard programming language is now the "accepted" way to program. Its an insult to the last 20+ years of "good" programming if you ask me.

  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @11:44AM (#47807477) Journal

    All these parties want to make coding an "unskilled" job - not as in making it require any less skill, but as in not requiring any higher education. This will make one of the few jobs that still pays decently (coding work in a select few US cities) dirt cheap, and that means more money running up the tech billionaires' scoreboards.

    • Oh and a side-effect this will have that the Silicon Valley elite wouldn't care about if they'd even thought of it, is that outside of the tech hotspots, coding and IT work will become minimum wage jobs right across the board.

      • Unlikely.

        Code and good code are different. You know that. It certainly would depress the marketplace to a measurable degree, but only in that it shifts the bell curve of coder competency vs number of coders a bit taller.

    • All these parties want to make coding an "unskilled" job - not as in making it require any less skill, but as in not requiring any higher education.

      I think you may not comprehend what "unskilled labor" really means. I run a company that does assembly work. I hire unskilled labor all the time. These are people who have essentially no marketable talents aside from their ability to follow very basic instructions. This does not remotely describe anyone who writes code for a living. Unskilled labor is essentially a meat robot and they do not get to use their brain much at all.

      Unless they find some way to greatly automate coding far beyond what is curre

    • This will make one of the few jobs that still pays decently

      The median household income in the US is $51,000. 15% of Americans living in poverty [cnn.com]

      The median annual wage for computer programmers [is] $74,000. Computer Programmers [bls.gov]

  • Interestingly, six of Code.org's ten biggest donors are also Founders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us tech immigration reform PAC.

    Why is this interesting?

    • by theodp (442580)

      The Yin and Yang of Hour of Code & Immigration Reform [slashdot.org]: But a recent NY Times Op-Ed by economist Paul Collier criticizing Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC as self-serving advocacy (echoing earlier criticism) serves as a reminder that Zuckerberg and Gates' Code.org and Hour of Code involvement is the Yin to their H-1B visa lobbying Yang. The two efforts have been inextricably linked together for Congress, if not for the public.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      They are playing both sides its why the AFLCIO donates to some republican candidates
      • They are playing both sides

        How are they playing both sides? It seems to me that Code.org and FWD.us are on the same side, with the same goal: To increase the number of programmers in America.

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Your not thinking with a political mind fwd.us are supporting code.org project and "praying it in aid" to mollify the poujadist politicians also if the USA becomes more isolationist it,s a plan B to provide trained workers. Watch Yes minster on BBC America :-)
  • If Microsoft and Bill Gates are interested in Programmer education, why not add a simple programming environment to Windows? Once upon a time DOS came with Basic. I believe a lot of kids and adults for first introduced to programming with Basic.

    Why not include a more modern newbie-friendly language, such as Python (insert your favorite language here). They are already shipping all those Window OSes, why not do some good with them :)

    • by digsbo (1292334)
      Visual Studio Express is already available freely to students and individuals. You can do C#, Visual Basic.Net, or JavaScript. I'm not sure what you consider "beginner", but I don't think there's anything significantly wrong with C# as a first language. Maybe not as simple as Pascal was for starters, but no worse than Java, which is taught at a lot of colleges as the first language.
    • If Microsoft and Bill Gates are interested in Programmer education, why not add a simple programming environment to Windows?

      They already do. It is called "Internet Explorer". You can use it to program in JavaScript, Scratch, and dozens of other programming languages. You can also use it to download hundreds more. Microsoft provides free programming tools for Visual Basic, Visual C++, and C#.

    • Once upon a time DOS came with Basic.

      Better still, it also came with DEBUG.COM.

  • by Nkwe (604125) on Tuesday September 02, 2014 @12:14PM (#47807807)

    "Under the leadership of Code.org, explained the ACM, it joined CSTA, NCWIT, NSF, Microsoft and Google in an effort "to reshape the U.S. education system," including passing a federal law making Computer Science a "core subject" in schools.

    There are lots of comments here that show concern about mass producing coders and driving wages down. It is important to distinguish between Computer Science and Coding. "Coding", being the act of taking a specification or design and translating it into the syntax of a given computer language, likely is or could be a commodity skill or vocational level activity. "Computer Science", formally being the study and theory of how computers and software work, and informally the development of algorithms and solutions using computers (architecture and design of a specific solution) is a different animal. Computer Science is unlikely to be a commodity skill as it requires advanced skills, training/experience, and level of insight or art that not everyone has or can achieve.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      well pure CS is Like Music theory knowing what cords Smoky Robinson o Burt Bacharach uses doesn't make you a song writer in their class or make you a bass player as good as James Jamison, Bach or even Paul McCartney
  • This makes perfects sense, if you are a corp like Facebook, you want to say "we've tried everything, it's no use, please raise the H1b quota" It's a lot like Microsoft cynically concluding that paying large anti-trust fines was a rational business decision, the revenues outweighed the penalties.
  • My last company was a well-known, major defense contractor. HR sent CS grads, with credible paper GPA's from well regarded universities, who claimed to know C, and could not explain the source code for "cat". I'm no C programmer and it took me about thirty seconds to puzzle through it. It does no good to produce legions of CS grads whose diplomas are valueless. Coding, even with modern tools, is not easy and never will be. The way to attract more ***QUALIFIED*** people to CS is to allow the market to price

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