Eight governors join coalition to expand computer science education

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Eight more governors have signed on to the Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a coalition of state leaders committed to advancing computer science education.

These recent additions bring the total membership to 16 governors, meaning that the Partnership, which launched in 2016 with the help of Code.org, has doubled since last month.

The new members include Republicans Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Kay Ivey of Alabama, Matt Mead of Wyoming and Democrats Steve Bullock of Montana, David Ige of Hawaii, Ralph Northam of Virginia and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.

In joining the partnership, the governors pledge to prioritize policy, standards and funding around computer science education. And it’s not just beneficial to the students. Nationwide, there are over 500,000 openings for computing jobs, according to Code.org, and that’s only expected to grow. States also report increasing shortages of skilled workers in the fields of STEM, computer science, IT and cybersecurity.

The idea is that by setting computer science standards and introducing the subject in schools, state leaders are investing in the future workforce. That’s one of the reasons Holcomb joined the governors’ coalition.

“Technology is changing the way every industry does business, and Indiana must ensure its young people are gaining the experience and skills they’ll need to thrive after graduation,” he said in a statement provided to EdScoop.

“The fact of the matter is, if you want to pretty much guarantee yourself employment your entire career — learn computer science, learn coding,” he added.

This year, Holcomb is supporting legislation that will require every K-12 school in the state to offer a computer science class by the year 2021. And, in his State of the State address earlier this month, Holcomb promised to fund professional development for teachers so they can be prepared for all the new classes they’ll be expected to teach by 2021.

According to statistics cited by the governor’s office, only 30 percent of Indiana high schools currently offer computer science, and just 6.5 percent offer AP computer science. The state wants to improve these numbers in the next few years.

“We know that computer science will continually impact all aspects of our lives, and we’re going to be ready,” Holcomb said.

Another new member of the coalition — and new to the governorship — is Northam, from Virginia. He reinforced the state’s commitment to computer science education after taking over from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

“I am pleased to join governors from across the country to increase access to K-12 computer science education so that every student is prepared to succeed in a 21st century economy,” Northam said in a statement Tuesday. “Aligning our education system with the needs of employers in cutting edge industries is a key priority for this administration, and I look forward to working with education and business partners from across the Commonwealth to make access to high-quality computer science education a reality for all Virginia students.”

The eight governors new to the partnership join eight others: Republicans Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas (co-chair), Doug Ducey of Arizona, Butch Otter of Idaho, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Larry Hogan of Maryland and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Democrats Jay Inslee of Washington (co-chair) and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

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