Two GOP leaders say in this guest column today: “Right now, job growth in the tech sector is so large that it is outpacing supply. High-paying jobs are sitting open as companies wait for qualified, talented individuals who have backgrounds in coding, program design, or software development.” 
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

Georgia won’t become ‘technology capital’ without computer science in schools

Governor to sign bill today mandating computer science classes

In a guest column, Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. P.K. Martin, chairman of the Senate's education committee, herald today’s signing of a computer science education bill by the governor. 

Sponsored by Martin, Senate Bill 108 requires computer science in all high schools and middle schools. The bill allows the courses to be phased in over the next few years.

By Geoff Duncan and P.K. Martin 

One half of one percent. 

That’s how many Georgia students complete a computer science course as part of their high school curriculum. 

In an economy where every business is becoming a technology company – whether it’s a worldwide airline utilizing advanced logistics or a bicycle repair shop analyzing social media trends – it’s abundantly clear that we need to increase our focus on technological learning. 

This year, the Georgia General Assembly took strong action to further that goal. 

Senate Bill 108 - authored by Chairman Martin - ensures that computer science courses will be offered to every middle and high school student across the state. 

The legislation permits school systems to phase in the computer science programs and also allows the courses to be “virtually proctored,” so each school system isn’t over-burdened with a requirement to hire additional teachers. The General Assembly also allocated funds in the state budget to help with teacher training and course administration to further reduce any burden to local school systems. 

These provisions will allow all of Georgia’s high school students – not just one half of one percent of them – the opportunity to attain the skills that are becoming imperative for sustained success in the 21st century economy. 

Right now, job growth in the tech sector is so large that it is outpacing supply. High-paying jobs are sitting open as companies wait for qualified, talented individuals who have backgrounds in coding, program design, or software development. And, even if Georgia’s students decide not to pursue a job in tech, the lessons learned in computer science are becoming essential in every industry. 

Georgia has already earned the distinction of being the “Silicon Valley of the South.” 

However, our goal is for our state to be recognized as the Technology Capital of the entire East Coast. 

That goal can only be realized if our education system is built for the future, affording our students the ability to earn a strong foundation in technological learning. By investing in our students, we can bolster our state’s workforce, further illustrate that Georgia is committed to growing our tech sector and infuse more venture capital into our state economy. 

SB 108 will provide our students with greater opportunity for modern-day success and help Georgia produce a highly-skilled workforce that will drive our economy into the future.  

Today, as SB 108 is signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, we are ready to double down on this commitment to Georgia’s students. It’s our job to provide them with the tools for success – and ensure that computer science courses are part of the statewide curriculum is integral to that challenge.  

One half of one percent is unacceptable.  

Without any in-depth data modeling, we are confident giving all students access to technological learning opportunities will yield greater results for our students and state. 

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.
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