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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Bill that would count computer coding as foreign language makes reappearance in Florida Senate



Maybe third time's the charm?

A bill that would allow Florida high schools to satisfy foreign language requirements with computer coding credits is back, and this time it's sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican State Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Filed Monday, the bill stipulates that high schools are not required to offer two computer coding credits, but state universities must recognize that the credits satisfy the foreign language requirement beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Each student and his or her parent, however, must sign a waiver acknowledging that a computer coding course taken as a foreign language may not meet out-of-state college and university foreign language requirements.

"I believe it's the right policy, Brandes said. "When I talk to employers, they tell me that they would value coding...many times over a foreign language."

Brandes backed a similar, controversial bill introduced by State Sen. Jeremy Ring in October 2015. That bill, which required high schools to offer computer coding, died in the Florida House. A similar effort in 2014 failed in the Legislature as well.

Critics at the time had trouble equating coding with a spoken language. They pointed out that more than more than half of Europe spoke two or more languages compared to 18 percent in the United States. Some argued to have both foreign language and computer coding as requirements.

Brandes said it would be difficult to add a computer coding requirement in addition to the foreign language requirement. Mandates like that, he said, cost money.

"This simply offers it as an option to students," he said. "We think this is going to be an incredibly valuable course over time."

"We're getting into an economy where the ability to code software is an incredibly valuable skill," Brandes added. "More so than Latin."

[Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2016 2:12pm]


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