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Education Microsoft The Almighty Buck

NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS 64

theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including Slashdot user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture? (To be fair to TEALS: it may have Microsoft backing, but it's not strictly a Microsoft effort, and also started out as a pure volunteer effort, as founder Kevin Wang explained earlier this year.)
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NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS

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  • that is documented independently.
    • that is documented independently.

      So? The $92B is not only parked overseas, it was earned overseas, by mostly non-Americans selling to other non-Americans. And it will be reinvested overseas, along with trillions of dollars parked by other corporations, creating jobs for non-Americans, because our idiotic tax laws would tax the hell out of the money if it was invested in America. No other country has such a counterproductive tax policy, pushing away investments by their own corporations.

      It is absurd to blame Microsoft for our dumb tax la

      • But, you just don't get it! Microsoft has $92 billion. In cash! Parked overseas! $92 billion that they could bring back to the US!

        But we are funding a project about education that involves Microsoft! With Federal Tax Dollars! If they just repatriated that $92 billion, we'd have another $30 Billion to spend on NSF studies and other stuff!


      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Of course it is parked in tax havens and is not parked where it was earned anywhere in the world. So still all just scummy bullshit, a typical psychopathic corporations willing to suck the life blood of the economy out of countries all over the globe, leaving people to suffer and die with major cuts backs in social services.

        Don't bloody pretend like they are leaving money where it was earned, nope, disappearing into fictitious cost centres in tax havens, straight up psychopathic profit shifting. Don't wa

        • For record, if it is legal, they are required to do so by law.
          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Sorry no it is illegal they are bleeding economies out of sheer greed. Their activities are not legal, there are just gaps they have paid their lobbyists to create via corrupt politicians that they are then exploiting in a criminal fashion, no because it is legal but because there is no legal framework by which they can be prosecuted and mass incarcerated, YET!

            • Sorry no it is illegal they are bleeding economies out of sheer greed

              Nonsense. Greed is perfectly legal. The fact that you don't like it doesn't make it illegal. In fact, you say so your self:

              they have paid their lobbyists to create via corrupt politicians

              If a company is following the law, no matter how that law came about, then the company is not doing anything illegal. Again, the fact that you don't like it doesn't make it illegal.

              To my own comment: A company is required, by regulation, to maximize profit for share holders. If a company has the ability to legally move their money around to minimize taxation then they are required to do

              • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                Nope the tax evasion is illegal, just the means of prosecuting are not available as yet. Still the sheer psychopathic destructiveness ensure the sick fuckers can be considered a plague upon the earth.

                • Nope the tax evasion is illegal

                  Nonsense. It is fully legal. Please quote which law, and in which way this is illegal. If it is illegal, why are companies like Microsoft and Google not prosecuted. The tax authorities are actually quite fond of prosecuting illegal tax evasion. Please don't make up your own fact just to make reality fit your emotions.

                  considered a plague upon the earth

                  Sigh. Why don't you just move to North Korea immediately. Then you will not be plagued with companies or even the concept of having a job.

  • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @07:05PM (#50422989) Homepage

    I'm not sure that is a great idea. Some people are great at teaching, others are not. Someone with no teaching experience has a good probability of being on the "not" side. Even people WITH teaching experience are often poor teachers.

    My concern with this is that you'll get someone with no experience that is also a poor teacher, and that person will turn the kids off to what could be an interesting field of study.

    • by zamansky ( 187579 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @08:34PM (#50423315)

      Many of my students who have volunteered with TEALS said that they felt that it wasn't doing much or anything to build long term capacity with respect to teaching.

      That said, they all felt that while they were in the classroom the kids were getting something that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise and that was worth it.

      They didn't think it was a game changer but they did feel it was a good thing. I tend to agree.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Some people are great at teaching, others are not.

      I believe this is a self-perpetuating myth. What the data shows is that new teachers in America improve rapidly over the course of about three years, after which they are about as good as they'll ever be. So it's certainly not the case that some people are just naturally teachers; great teachers have to learn the craft through practice, and that learning comes after they finish their official training.

      But maybe what we're seeing is that it takes teachers three years to reach their inborn teaching potentia

      • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
        Hiring great teachers from one district and putting them in an underperforming district doesn't necessarily work. Because teachers who are great at teaching subject matter may be completely unprepared to deal with the classroom management issues in a poor school. Teachers who can hang tough at a poor school would likely really enjoy moving to a good district and getting a chance to enjoy teaching subject matter. The reverse move would likely result in worse results all around.
  • Funny thing is that I've been told that my graduates form the largest subset of all the NY area TEALS volunteers.

    Meanwhile we continue to produce results but struggle to raise funds while the rich get richer.

    To everyone reading this, please do check us out at, vet us, and draw your own conclusions.

    Oh well, back to the grind.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    for a Federal government program with ramifications beyond a small number of citizens.

    Sure, it could flop in the sense that the recommendation is not to proceed further. But, less than $1M of Fed. taxpayer money - that's chump change for a program undertaken in good faith.

  • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @07:30PM (#50423075)

    The slash article says, "a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable." As a middle school teacher I would love to get some material that meets those qualifications.

    Because Computer Science is not a core subject, the teachers are left making up things as we go along. At this point I have a pretty good scheme of work that eaves the students leaving with a lot more than they came in with. However, it would be nice to have some real standards and expectations for each grade level. Meaningful material for hitting those goals would be even better; but at the present the teachers really don't have anything beyond what some department head thinks is important.

    (BTW: for my classes, giving full authority to a department head, who doesn't even teach at my school or at my level, meant I got an edict of "No programming!"

    Even Arduino boards got nixed. I can show them to the students; but they are not allowed to program, or play with, them. I was told, "Even you have said they are controllers. The students might learn how to control things, and we can't have that happening." I was left with ??? on my face.

    Fear of "hacking," something that the administrators cannot even define, is hobbling us.)

    So, provide the material, let teachers try to present it as a "standard" curriculum.

    • BTW: for my classes, giving full authority to a department head, who doesn't even teach at my school or at my level, meant I got an edict of "No programming!"

      You've got to change that. Find a way to convince him. Use your social engineering skills, whatever it takes.

  • From the TEALS Volunteer FAQ []: Is TEALS a Microsoft program? Yes, TEALS operates as a citizenship project within Microsoft. Microsoft is a huge supporter of computer science education, and provides most of the funding for TEALS.

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