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Bill in Michigan House would require high school computer science classes

A bill in the Michigan House would require every public high school to offer at least one computer science class. Under the bill, the requirement would start with the 2027-28 school year.

Supporters say the bill would teach Michigan students foundational tech skills useful for the tech industry.

HB 5649 is sponsored by Representative Carol Glanville (D-Walker). The bill was discussed in the House Committee on Education on Tuesday.

The bill would require schools to submit detailed reports on computer science courses to the Center for Educational Performance and Information. These reports would record the demographics, grade level, special education status, and free lunch eligibility of students enrolled in the courses, among other things.

“We know it's a foundational literacy that students are just going to need,” said Sean Roberts with, a national coding nonprofit. “When it's in every school, then every student has the opportunity to get those foundational courses and get the knowledge and skills they'll need to succeed.”

Roberts said it would help bridge gaps with smaller schools.

“It's the schools with below 500 students that are really struggling to provide this. Of course, that overlaps some with rural communities, but it also overlaps a lot with a lot of our urban high schools as well.”

He said one of the potential hurdles to the bill's implementation is the cost of providing students with adequate technology and getting teachers to teach the courses. Roberts said schools have progressed on the technology front, especially after a period of virtual learning during the pandemic.

But he said training teachers would be key to overcoming the “biggest hurdle” to expanding computer science classes.

“What we have seen is that you can train existing teachers to teach at least introductory level computer science courses through training.”

Roberts said school districts need to make sure teachers have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Copyright 2024 Michigan Radio

Alvin (AJ) Jones
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