From U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas comes the 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 (official act name, translated: Americans Can Code) Act of 2013. Essentially, this act labels programming languages as critical foreign languages in order to get schools teaching programming and other CS topics in schools early on (K and up). Incentives will be given to schools (local and state) that increase CS-related classes.

What do you think of this language-expanding act? Do you think that such changes for school systems in the US should have already changed in comparison to foreign education systems? Would you have be affected by such changes if your previous/current shool offered more CS classes?

Source is located here.
I think that this idea is perfect and should have come much earlier. It might even be possible integrate the TI-8x calculators from math and use them to teach lower level languages like assembly and TI-Basic.
I feel this act is going a bit overboard in trying to produce more programmers. Considering most programming languages are already in English, this will almost certainly increase America's monolinguism. Instead, there should be other incentives for teaching software classes.

If I understand this correctly, learning a programming language can be an alternative to learning a foreign language. Some programming languages *cough*BASIC can be learned to a fair level of proficiency over the course of about a week.
And this is just speaking from personal experience, but I've found that a lot of the kids that just don't care about school end up just taking the default or "easier" language (either ASL or Spanish) just because its a requirement. I've seen those classes fill to the brim. I'd be worried that this might attract a large number of people who don't care, will disrupt, and can't be moved elsewhere. I've already had this in my school, where a lot of electives are filled, so now a lot of the "bad" sort of kids are in my Computer Hardware class, and it gets very disruptive. I'd hate to see that happen in a Comp Sci class.
My opinion: NO

Here's why:
Elementary school teachers are very bad when it comes to computers. As a 2nd grader, I had to troubleshoot any problems my teachers had because they knew that I knew what they didn't know. Not to mention that that would cause a logistical nightmare with teaching the teachers.
Also: Programming is a great thing, but first you must teach logic, which is math. The math levels that are currently being taught wouldn't allow for elementary school students to comprehend how to actually get things to work or how to troubleshoot. They would get tired of it or get frustrated easily because the math currently taught and their attention spans wouldn't allow it. To extend the point, it would also take time away from math class.
And: If they don't care about it, they will be bored and it will be a time waster. Parents caring + kids not = conflict that really shouldn't happen.

Long story short: Nice idea, kinda, but there are too many limiting factors and too many things that can and will go wrong.
C++ is not a foreign language.
BASIC is not a foreign language.
People do not speak in x86 assembly.

One of the key aspects of a Country is its Language. By redefining language you are only widening the gap between Citizens.

Programming languages are not vital math and critical thinking skills. I know someone who only had a High-School education and makes enough money to support his entire family, being the only working one in the house. Future Doctors, Engineers, and Investors should not have to learn C++.
Depends how this is done. Having the discipline to learn programming language grammars actually translates well into having the discipline to learn the grammars of natural languages as well. Moreover, despite the name of the act, learning to program appears only secondary to providing more general CS education at an early level, which contrary to several of the opinions offered thus far in the topic is EXACTLY vital math and critical thinking skills. Theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics are pretty essentially the same field. And they teach deductive reasoning skills more effectively than any other fields for the very simple reason that they consist of literally nothing but deductive reasoning.

Sorry Hexatron - (a) making money really is a very poor correlation for how well you may or may not think. (b) After graduating high school I already had the C.S. chops that I could have done the same if I hadn't wanted to pursue higher education.

Virtually every engineer I know already is an at least competent programmer, and most of the doctors and investors I know would be better off for - the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics exist because most practitioners of the biological sciences (medical practitioners included) have absolutely no talent for computer science (or are just scared to put in the work to learn it), and are thus unable to solve fundamental problems in the field. And physics, mathematics, and computer science are three of the highest paying undergraduate degrees in the country largely because investment firms poach a lot of the top talent to work on economic modeling and trading algorithms.
“The very name of this law demonstrates that programming is simply another language,” said Cárdenas. “Learning and communicating in a foreign language can have a tremendous impact on a student, both culturally and educationally.

> “The very name of this law demonstrates that programming is simply another language,”

Okay, top kek here

> By 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million computer programming jobs, with only 400,000 American computer science students to fill those jobs.

this implies you need a full-on computer science degree to do basic programming, which is bullcrap, in many cases a full CS degree is overkill and too hard for many people to get

> “American students should continue to receive the understanding of other cultures that foreign language learning creates, but we should also be preparing American kids to compete in the world marketplace,”

Again, kekekek. The two things mentioned are apples and oranges. This congress dude doesn't even know what he's talking about.

Okay, now for the actual bill:

10 Section 6002(b)(1) of the America COMPETES Act
11 (20 U.S.C. 9802(b)(1)) is amended by inserting ‘‘, includ-
12 ing a computer programming language,’’ after ‘‘a foreign
13 language’’.

> allowing people to skip foreign language and take CS instead

so basically you're telling people that they can skip out on something as important as foreign language and take something that's completely unrelated, and that gives no insight into foreign cultures, instead? Cop out, and a shady way of convincing math-oriented nerdazoids to take an easier way out, rather than having them focus and actually improve their knowledge of other cultures, and of language in general.

15 ... including underrep-
16 resented groups such as minorities and women ...

kek, closing the gender gap is fine if done naturally (discourage sexism in the CS workplace, etc.) but the way they've artificially been pushing it has been laughable. This is one of the first sentences of the bill, so I'm sure that a big part of the implementation is an artificial push to close the "gap" needlessly

Whether or not the concept of the bill looks good from a mile away, on close inspection it's flawed, and I hope it fails at the vote.

Better ways to approach it:

- Since most states require 3 or 4 years of science, with only 3 of which have to be specific (some form of biology, chemistry, and physics), simply streamline CS as an elective with "STEM" credit

- Hire qualified (at least semi) seasoned people from industry to teach, not losers who barely made it through college. Pay them based on workplace expertise and experience, not years spent in a crappy school bureaucracy. Classes like AP CS are a rude awakening for many students, and you need someone inspiring as a teacher, not a 21 year old general mathematics teacher who got a minor in Python programming and/or basic web design. Easier said than implemented, but face it, having a bozo teaching the class will only drive more people away

- Don't make CS a substitute for foreign language, that's stupid on so many levels

- Realize that not everyone needs to know how to code; so many people are making out programming to be a "skill that need to be universal within the next 20 years." Sorry, but no, it doesn't. The field is growing fast, but I'm pretty sure that neither a secretary, nor a manual laborer, nor a musician, nor a linguist, nor an artist, nor a general humanities major needs a programming education "starting in elementary school". There are other classes that are still deemed non-essential in many states, like personal finance and economics classes, that are much more of a priority.

- there's no need to artificially fill the "gender gap" -- remove things like blatant discrimination, and the gap will eventually close on its own without affirmative action or wasted resources and money
I think the whole idea that everyone needs to learn to program is driven by automation slowly replacing human labor (except where humans are treated as slaves), and our economic systems being dependent on a significant percentage of the populace working.

Since we're already in the Politics subforum... my belief is that that is unsustainable. In fact, it's my opinion that a large percentage of jobs are actually worse for society than just paying the person to do nothing. (Not a majority by any means, but still.) And, turning the whole population into programmers will just add to that problem.

To fix that, we'll have to go deep into socialism (although with free trade on top of that, so it's not pure communism). I think even with the level of automation we can have right now, if we switched to a system where every person got their basic needs (I'm not saying a middle class lifestyle, mind you - if you want that, you're definitely having to work) taken care of automatically, and then those that wanted to work did, we could significantly reduce the size of our workforce and the hours that the remaining workforce works, while still supporting the society. (The profit motive would have to be removed from a lot of essential systems (healthcare, food, shelter, and transportation being the biggest ones), to prevent concentration of wealth and to ensure that it worked for the people, but it could be done.) With a shrunken workforce, traffic would be reduced, reducing resource usage and pollution.

The problem is the US's socialism allergy, and the government implementation that means that it can't work here.
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