A bill to encourage school districts to expand high school computer science course passed the Assembly Committee on Education unanimously April 9.
AB 1764, introduced by California Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), would allow school districts to award students credit for one mathematics course if they complete a course in computer science. The course must meet University of California or California State University requirements.
The bill specifically looks to expand California’s sluggishly growing tech-qualified workforce. It could ultimately lead to reductions in outsourcing and in sourcing qualified workers from other states and countries.
By the end of the decade, over half the jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields in the United States will require highly technical computer knowledge. In California the demand for computer science graduates far exceeds the number of degrees awarded.
“We must integrate technology courses into our K-12 curriculum so that our students have every opportunity to gain skillsets that match the needs of our economy,” Olsen said. “I thank my colleagues in the committee for recognizing the need to better prepare our students for the demands of the workforce.”
According to the Conference Board and the National Science Foundation, as of December 2013 there are 77,309 open computing jobs in California but only 4,324 computer science graduates. In states where computer science counts as an academic class, 50 percent more students enroll than in states where it is treated as an elective.
In the coming weeks AB1764 will be heard on the Assembly Floor.