BY ZACHARY PERROTTA
Florida state Senator Jeremy Ringer is an anomaly. In a political climate where the need for educational reform has taken a major backseat to other issues, this former Yahoo executive saw the necessity for a skill which so few employees possess yet so many professions require: coding.
To fix this pressing issue, Ringers Florida Senate Bill 468 intends to allow coding classes to be a language credit in order to promote students taking them. It appears to be a relatively bipartisan piece of legislation; in the Florida Senate, it got 35 Yeas and a measly five Nays – proving the necessity of the change.
Among the various benefits of the bill, which promotes taking coding classes, is supplementing the emerging market being grown and supported by the coding industry. The Conference Board, a trusted business data provider, both agree: 73% new jobs are in the computer science area of STEM, specifically, coding.
These jobs aren’t just abundant, they are also highly desirable: after conducting an analysis on career earnings by major, the Hamilton Project found that computer science associate degrees grant their recipients $20,000 more in median annual income over their life. Additionally, these jobs are the number one source for new wages in the U.S. right now.
Though it may initially seem complicated and inaccessible, with time and practice many find that coding is an enjoyable subject to learn and can provide a potential lifetime profession. The Change the Equation organization, in an evaluation of students’ enjoyment of classes, found that computer science was the third most likable. This is particularly the case for women and minorities who, if they take a high school coding class, are either ten or seven times more likely to major in it in college.
These rates prove what is already common knowledge: when students are encouraged to take a high school course, it enables them to determine if that subject is of interest to them and, if so, that could lead to the beginnings of a career.
The issue in the status quo is that students, because of foreign language credit graduation requirements, are forced into taking classes such as Spanish when their interests may lie in coding.
The opposition to legislation such as this argues that by including coding as a language credit, we disturb the sanctity of language based on communication such as Spanish, French and Mandarin.
Sure, coding doesn’t enable its users to communicate at a higher effectiveness with each other by method of conventional language. But, it does let them comprehend the digital world which is only growing in scale. While students may learn Mandarin and never actually reach China, computers will be a part of their lives wherever they go.
If our imperative as an education system is to educate students for employment, we have to consider the discipline in which they will work. So, as long as the coding world is providing such opportunity to their students in higher abundance than the language credits of now, we must value our students’ economic future and enable them to code.
So long as grandparents come to their grandchildren, inquiring about how to update their Facebook profile picture, coding will be necessary. From personal experience, those cases are only rising in frequency just as the necessity for software developers and computer science majors is increasing. As long as the tech world evolves, our policy on coding in high school should co-evolve with it. And, because this is the natural next link on that evolutionary chain, this policy must be affirmed because it allows the student body of Florida to experience the immense benefits that coding has to offer.
Photo courtesy of Tech Crunch