A common refrain against requiring CS in our K12 schools is that we don't have the teachers and we won't any time soon. Sure, we don't right now but we won't if we don't do something about it.
The question to ask is "how long will it take" and "how do we get there?"
Let's look at New York City. We've got approximately 1,000,000 students in our public schools. Let's say that's grades 1 to 12. That's 83333 per grade. Let's take one particular grade and see how many classes. At 34 students per class we get 2450 classes. Since teachers typically teach five classes that means to cover 1 class for every student in one particular grade we'll need about 500 teachers to cover a full year class. 250 if the class is only one semester.
This if, of course, just back of the envelope calculating and we'd need a good deal more to really do justice to teaching CS in K12 but 500 sounds like a reasonable critical mass to say "we're teaching CS."
How long until we can get there?
At Hunter we started our advanced certificate program a year ago. The cert program is specifically for teachers licensed in another area seeking to add the New York State CS credential. Our first cohort graduated 21 and I can proudly say they're all very well prepared to teach CS in K12. They know their content and how to teach it. We're starting another batch in two weeks and a third cohort next summer. By June 2023 we should have between 60 and 100 teachers certified. That's not bad. We'll have a core group of teacher leaders three years from our start.
How are we doing this? What's the incentive for current teachers to get this new certification? It's an opportunity to really learn some CS and how to teach it. All the training and PD based models just don't cut it long term. On the other hand, it costs a pretty penny - 21 graduate credits. True, those credits can be applied to salary differentials but still. Also, while the state could just flat out require the certification but they've put in a generous ramp up - teachers will need the credential but not for a few year.
The biggest reason we've been able to get these teachers in is the generosity of the New York Tech community. We've been able to provide financial support to these teachers looking to be our leaders moving forward.
Going with that, we have 4 students currently in our Masters program with another 6 or so slated to start in the Fall and that's with zero advertising and outreach. I expect that in a couple of years, the demand for the certificate program will wane while it accelerates for the masters program.
We're not going to have all the teachers we need in three years or even in five but in three we'll have a solid core. As other certification programs come online the city will increase it's teacher training capacity and as we close in on 2026 when CS4All will expect all schools to offer CS, we'll have a good number of qualified teachers to fill the need.
Sure, it'll take a decade or longer to finish the job but you've got to start with a plan and a vision and lots of support. At least in NYC we've got all three.