One of the bills that made it through this legislative session in the Georgia Senate will require local school systems to offer computer science courses to students at the middle and high schools.
According to a press release from the Republican Caucus of the Georgia Senate, Senate Bill 108 was to “provide opportunities for Georgia students to acquire skills in computer science in middle and high school.” The bill will require local school systems to offer computer science courses in all high schools by the 2024-25 school year and all middle schools to offer exploratory computer science courses by the 2022-23 school year. The bill also requires the Georgia Department of Education to ensure that the Georgia Virtual School has sufficient capacity to utilize computer science courses and state charter schools that serve high school students must offer computer science courses by the 2022-23 school year.
“Georgia has already made significant investments in education, cybersecurity and the FinTech industry,” said Georgia Sen. P.K. Martin, chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee. “Thousands of jobs available today and many more jobs of the future will require a deeper understanding of computer science and coding. Around the nation, Georgia has solidified its reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley of the South’ and today, the Senate took the next step to ensure that students in Georgia have new opportunities to enter our thriving technology workforce.”
That will not be a problem at the high school level in Walton County, according to Celeste Cannon, director of Secondary Curriculum for the Walton County School System.
“We offer computer science at Loganville High School and Walnut Grove High School. Loganville high School has had computer science pathways for 4 years. Walnut Grove started this year. The courses include gaming, programming, and AP computer science. Monroe area high School will add computer science in 2019-2020,” Cannon said.
Implementing it in the middle schools, however, will be a little more difficult.
“I don’t think we have any middle school teachers qualified to teach it. Very few middle or high school teachers across the state are credentialed for these courses. We’ve trained about eight high school teachers over the last two years. We will need to do the same for middle school teachers first,” Cannon said, adding a massive training process will have to be implemented across the state before any of these courses can be taught at the middle school level.
According to the press release, more than 350,000 cybersecurity jobs are currently unfilled in the United States with another 3 million expected to go unfilled worldwide by 2021. Georgia-based companies process about two-thirds of all financial transactions in the nation and six of the 10 largest payment processing firms are based in Georgia.
“As a small business owner in the software industry, I can personally attest to the demand for employees with technical fluency,” said Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming). “SB 108 is a meaningful first step for training today’s students for the high-paying jobs of tomorrow. Experience in computer science opens new doors of opportunity for young minds and this legislation will help to prepare Georgia’s future workforce for the demands of our most rapidly growing industries.”
“We want to make sure that schools are preparing students for the jobs available right here in Georgia,” said Martin. “SB 108 is an investment in our greatest resource, our students, so that they can find not just a job, but a career in a high-demand industry. I appreciate Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s support for this bill and look forward to swift passage by the House so that Georgia’s students will lead the way in technology.”
SB 108 passed by a vote of 51 to 1, according to the press release.