Diversity & Inclusion
Education / Municipal government

Delaware public high schools may soon be required to offer computer science

State Rep. Debra Heffernan's “Computer Science for All” bill recently passed in the House and is now being considered by the Senate.

At Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, February 2015. (Photo by Flickr user US Department of Education, used under a Creative Commons license)

Every high school student in Delaware has to take math and science, but not everyone is required to take computer science. In fact, many state public and charter high schools don’t even offer compsci courses at all.
That might be about to change.
State senators in the Senate Education Committee are considering House Bill 355, known as “Computer Science For All,” which would require all Delaware public schools to offer computer science courses by 2020.
The state house unanimously approved the legislation in late January.
“Computer Science For All” was sponsored by Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-Bellefonte), who says that it’s time for the state to make a change for the better.
“Because there are so many available jobs in technology fields that require compsci or a background in computer technology, it’s important that our high school students have at least an introduction into these skills and the opportunity to practice them,” she said in an interview with Technical.ly.
The Delaware Department of Education (DOE) is also invested in House Bill 355, and DOE Public Information Officer Alison May said the DOE would back the bill.
Heffernan is aware of 32 of 44 state high schools that already offer computer science. Last year, though, she told the Dover Post that Delaware still needs her statewide, comprehensive compsci bill.
“A lot of high schools don’t have [computer science courses],” she told the Dover Post. “If they have one, it’s only at the advanced placement level. This is the very highest level and that doesn’t make it as accessible to every student.”
Heffernan also believes her bill might open up opportunities for minorities and female students to involve themselves in computer science.
“I think it’s going to be way easier for students to take compsci, especially girls and minorities if it’s offered at every school,” she told us. “And if it counts as a math credit, it gives kids more of an incentive to take the class.”
On the other hand, some educators think it will be difficult to implement due to the level of education resources.
“You have to provide some funding and some additional resources to help districts in implementing this. I don’t see any funding in this bill to support that,” said Gene Montano, curriculum director for Capital School District, in the 2016 Dover Post report.
While Heffernan believes that taking computer science could help Delaware students become more competitive in the growing technological job market, she noted that it wouldn’t excuse students from basic math and science classes. All students would still have to take Algebra II.

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