House panel advances bill requiring high schools to offer computer science classes

The Indiana House Ways and Means Committee on Monday passed a bill that would require all Indiana public high schools to offer computer science elective courses to students by 2021.

The bill also requires, starting in 2021, K-12 public schools to include computer science in their curriculum.

The bill passed the committee unanimously and heads to the full House for possible amendments and votes.

The legislation is an “important bill for the students of Indiana,” said bill author state Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville.

The concept of requiring schools to offer computer science courses is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2018 legislative agenda.

It doesn’t go as far as some wanted—to require all students to take a computer science course or to require it for graduation—but Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, said it would still be beneficial to students.

“This is not a mandate for students to take computer science,” Sullivan said. “It’s not a requirement to get their diploma, but it is showing an emphasis on the importance of computer science.”

Sullivan said there’s been confusion about what computer science is. It’s not simply about how to use computer devices, she said.

“Computer science isn’t how to use this,” she said referring to her device. “It’s why this works.”

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, about 197 of Indiana’s 398 high schools offer computer science classes.

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