In addition to everything I wrote about last time there were a couple of other big announcements at this year's CSTA conference. Both announcements deal with funding.
First, there is a new class of CSTA membership. The free tier remains but now for $50 you can join CSTA+. This new level of membership comes with a bunch of extras that are probably good for K12 teachers but I doubt I'll use any of them. I did, however, get a snazzy CSTA+ water bottle by joining at the conference. For me the interesting part is that 50% of CSTA+ dues will go to support local chapters.
I don't exactly know what that means but it's what got me to join. Ultimately, local teaching communities are important and CSTA+ supports that, I'm all in.
That said, what do chapters do? I know what goes on in NY but not elsewhere. I bet the same is true for people all over the country. One question that came up repeatedly at the conference, at least in my circles was "what would the chapters use the money for?" I think it would be wonderful if on the CSTA web site there was a page where chapters could easily list activities funded by the central organization. I'm not looking for a big write up - who has time to read or write that. I'm looking for a line or two. What the chapter did and maybe a few comments on details. Over time this could be a great way for chapters to steal ideas from each other.
The other piece of big news was Microsoft pledging a big chunk of change to the CSTA. I've often lamented that so many CS Education (and education decisions in general) are decided by everyone except the teachers. The CSTA is our teacher's professional organization and our best bet for teacher representation when policy is made and implemented. Once again it appears that some of these funds will help support local chapters.
The Microsoft funding though got me thinking. The linked piece talks about advocacy, professional development and curriculum. All important but there's an even greater need right around the corner. We need quality, qualified CS teachers and we need them now. Taking a teacher with no CS background and giving them some PD can be a stop gap but it isn't a solution. Long term we need pre and in service teacher preparation programs similar to what we're rolling out at Hunter. Programs that include both pedagogy and content. As states begin to require these programs, as they do in all other subject areas, teachers both new and in service will have to take a number of graduate credits. In our case, 18 for a certificate for an already licensed teacher and our MA program is somewhere in the 30s.
I'd love to see money allocated to pay for CS teacher certification through our public colleges as they (we) roll out programs.
This said, the Microsoft commitment is great news for the CSTA and CSTA is a great option for teachers that can afford it.
Here in NY, our CSTA chapter is fairly young. I'm excited to see what this year brings both on the local and national level.