On stage this afternoon at Morris High School in the Bronx, Mayor Bloomberg brought Fred Wilson on stage the announce the opening of a Software Engineering Academy in September.
The mayor also vowed to open 100 new schools, including 50 charter schools, by the end of 2013, when his third and final term ends.
One of the new schools, a “Software Engineering Academy” planned for Union Square in Manhattan, would focus on technical education, he said. At least 12 schools focusing on career and technical education would be created, he said.
Mike Zamansky, a computer science teacher at Stuyvesant High School, came up with the idea for an academy. He’s been campaigning for more rigorous software training for students for almost a decade; in 2003 he pointed out to the Stuyvesant Spectator that “a large number of students who are exposed to computer science at Stuy go onto pursue a career in that field.”
“I have nothing against woodshop,” said Zamansky. “Whether a 10 [period] tech is valuable depends on what class would be in place of it, and computer science is universally valuable.”
“The person I probably have most to thank for where I am today is my Stuyvesant High School computer science teacher, Mike Zamansky. I learned more from him in high school than in my first three years of college computer science classes,” wrote Jon Simantov, a programmer and student of Mr. Zamansky’s, on his blog. Mr. Zamansky also fares well on RateMyTeachers.com.
The proposed software academy answers some of the early criticisms of the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s competition to build a graduate school of applied sciences. A fifty-fifty partnership between Cornell-Technion won the bid, which was open to international and out-of-state schools. Back in September, Mr. Wilson told Betabeat, “It’s downright anti-N.Y.C. for the mayor’s office to consider helping an outsider come into N.Y.C. and a massive slap in the face of all the great institutions N.Y.C. has here already.”
Some tech industry insiders were also skeptical about whether a graduate campus could address the hiring needs of New York’s budding startup scene, wondering if training initiatives needed to start earlier in a student’s education.
Here is the text of the Mayor’s speech. We’ll update you with more details as they come in:
“With support from venture capitalist Fred Wilson, this September we’ll open a Software Engineering Academy, the brainchild of one of our own teachers – Mike Zamansky from Stuyvesant High School. We’re honored to have both Fred and Mike with us today.
The new school will be located in Union Square – home to a growing tech community that includes companies like Yelp and General Assembly. Those are the kinds of companies we want our students to work for, or to start.
And to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs in every field, we’ve launched a pilot program for 2,200 students who are developing business plans with other students around the world.
For instance, last September, we opened an innovative new school in partnership with IBM that focuses on computer science. It’s a six-year high school – grades 9 through 14, that’s right: 14 – so students graduate with a Regents degree and an associate’s degree and they also get a place in line for a job at IBM.
It’s a new way of thinking about secondary school based on today’s economic realities.
Over the next two years, we’ll open at least a dozen new Career and Technical Education schools and programs aligned with trends in the global economy. Students will get out-of-school internships tailored around their coursework and interests. Now to do this, we need more private sector partners.”
The new school will focus on connecting tech-inclined students to jobs and internships; one of the first sponsors, the mayor said, is Bloomberg LP.