Wyoming is poised to be the first state in the country to require its schools to offer computer science education. Friday, the State Senate passed a bill to add computer science to the basket of goods as a common core knowledge area.
Laramie High School sophomore Katherine Ballard told the committee that she wants to pursue genetics, but the colleges she’s looking at want students to have studied computer science in high school. Because her school doesn’t offer it, she’s worked out a way to take courses online. But she said Wyoming needs to build its capacity to guarantee all students get exposure to coding and programming.
“Because it’s a skill that we are going to need in the future,” said Ballard. “If we are not taking it, we are not going to be prepared to move into the workforce or onto college.”
The Senate’s bill will now go before the House. The House also had their own bill addressing computer science, but it wasn’t as strong as the Senate’s. However, the House Education committee amended its bill Friday to make computer science a course that all districts are required to offer.
Sara Burlingame, executive director for Wyoming Equality, testified before the House committee encouraging them to push for legislation that mandates access to computer science because it will bring positive and profitable attention to the state.
“We don’t get the investment, we don’t get the excitement, we don’t get that national attention turned to Wyoming because of this investment that we are making, unless we truly commit to it,” said Burlingame.
Following the first week of the 2018 legislative session, it looks like policymakers are willing to make that commitment.