Missouri Can’t Afford Watered Down Computer Science Legislation

by Andrew Smith | Feb 19, 2018
If Missouri wants to compete for the next Amazon HQ2, or attract another opportunity of that magnitude, we must integrate more computer science into our education system. Amazon would have supplied 50,000 high paying jobs for our region. However, Missouri has 10,000 open computing jobs today with an average annual salary of $82,000 that we can’t fill because we don’t have the qualified workforce.  The sad truth is, we never had a chance to win HQ2 because our tech workforce isn’t at the level it needs to be.

The state legislature has to take thecomm first step by changing our K-12 curriculum requirements to allow high school students in Missouri the option to count computer science courses as a core math or science credit for graduation. This is a policy that 35 other states have adopted over the last few years to allow more students the opportunity to fit computer science courses into their schedule. 

We were disappointed to see the provision allowing students to count computer science as a core graduation credit was removed from pending legislation during the House committee process. Groups testifying in favor of this provision included a wide range of business groups across the state, school administrators, school boards, teachers unions and Code.org, a national non-profit coalition that partners with Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google and over 500 companies advocating for more exposure to computer science in education. 

Passing legislation to get more schools to offer computer science simply isn’t enough to be competitive. The vast majority of students who choose to take computer science as an elective course are white males, which is why other states are allowing students the option to count the courses as a core graduation credit in math or science. This will result in exposing more women and minorities to computer science, opening up new worlds of possibility and transforming lives and communities.

The House of Representatives should add this option for students back to HB 1623 if it truly wants to pass meaningful computer science legislation that will connect employers with a qualified workforce.