27 May Coding has been approved as a foreign language by the Florida Senate
Florida senators approved a bill allowing high school students to take computer coding classes in place of foreign language requirements.
The bill (SB 468), introduced by Sen. Jeremy Ring’s (D-Parkland), won by a 35-5 vote. It will take effect during the 2018-19 school year. Technological skills are a necessity “for every industry,” Ring told USA TODAY.
“It’s ahead of its time, but in reality, it’s in its time,” Ring said. “If you don’t have an understanding of technology, you will be left behind. It’s a basic skill, as much as reading and writing.”
Local associations are not pleased with the decision. According to the NAACP’s Florida Conference and Miami-Dade branch, “Our children need skills in both technology and in foreign languages to compete in today’s global economy,” the statement reads. “However, to define coding and computer science as a foreign language a misleading and mischievous misnomer that deceives our students, jeopardises their eligibility to admission to universities, and will result in many losing out on the foreign language skills they desperately need even for entry-level jobs in South Florida.”
The bill, which has undergone several revisions, offers high school students the opportunity to take computer coding courses.
The measure requires the Florida College System institutions and state universities to accept two coding credits in place of the current two-credit foreign language requirement, though Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program is not mentioned.
Critics worry that the bill will be financially burdensome on public schools already lacking sufficient technological resources.
“What I’m fearful of is… certain students in certain zip codes may not have access to those kind of classes… how do you foresee this rolling out and being equitable?” said Sen Dwight Bullard, as reported by The Orland Sentinel.
Ring called complaints and concerns regarding funding “disingenuous,” citing Florida’s education budget and the option of using Florida Virtual School if schools do not have the resources. “If a school can’t afford instruments, should every school eliminate music classes?”
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