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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Board of Education vice chairman calls for required computer science instruction

After the Florida Board of Education adopted new computer science standards May 20, at least one prominent critic was not impressed: Florida State University physics professor Paul Cottle called the adoption a "meaningless gesture" because it didn't include a plan to recruit needed computer science teachers to the state.

State Board of Education vice chairman John Padget is taking issue with that characterization. A vocal advocate for computer instruction, Padget viewed the decision as a needed first step for a state that's too far behind in the critical curriculum area.

"Computer science must be front and center in Florida's drive to create jobs. Success in all our job-creating enterprises -- tourism, agriculture, engineering, logistics, construction, and the financial industries -- can be linked back to excellence in computer science," Padget wrote in a letter to media. "Such will not be an option for Florida's future; it's a prerequisite."

He called for a three-year computer science plan that includes expansion of the teaching force, added credentials for math and science teachers, and incentives for relevant industry certifications, among other steps.

"Happily, students don't have to wait: Microsoft, Adobe, CompTIA, Cisco, and Oracle credentials are accessible right now -- along with AP Computer Science -- at the Florida Virtual School," Padget added. "But, we need a creative 3-year plan to ensure accessibility in small and large schools, in both urban and rural districts."

Such instruction paves the way for high-paying jobs in a growing sector, he said, calling upon lawmakers to mandate computer science.

"By the end of the next legislative session, Florida needs a 3-year plan requiring -- not just offering -- computer science instruction," Padget concluded. "We can't wait."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 1:32pm]


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