Boost for computer-science education gets green light in Senate

High-school students would gain an added incentive to take computer-science courses and prepare for 21st-century jobs under a bill by Rep. Drew Hansen that won overwhelming bipartisan approval Tuesday in the state Senate.
“This bill will help students train for high-paying jobs in the technology industry and start addressing our state’s computer programmer shortage,” Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, said.

House bill 1472 calls for school boards to approve an advanced placement (AP) computer-science course as equivalent to a math or science course, including for purposes of meeting math graduation requirements for high school, rather than simply as an elective.

States that have treated AP computer science as a math or science course rather than as an elective have seen more students enroll in the computer-science course.

The Senate voted 46-1 for the bill, which passed the House earlier and will return there for consideration of changes adopted in the Senate.

“This bill focuses on skills necessary for the technology sector, which is a strong industry in our state,” Republican Sen. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup said on the Senate floor in urging support for the proposal. “Because of this bill, students will be prepared for good jobs.”

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, said HB 1472 is his favorite measure of the session to come from the House to the Senate, where he serves on the committee that reviews education bills.

“We have been having fewer students take AP computer-science classes over the last 10 years,” he said on the Senate floor.  “This is such a simple fix — and really good policy.”