Computer science initiative taken down by STEM provision in Missouri

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Based on nine policies Code.org has identified to help make computer science fundamental to K-12 education.

UPDATE: On October 30, 2018, Governor Parson signed into law the updated computer science bill, HB 3, that passed during special session last month. Thank you Governor and members of the MO legislature for taking quick action!

Missouri has stood out as one of the few states without a single policy expanding access to K-12 computer science. In May, the legislature fixed this by overwhelmingly passing legislation to put Missouri’s students on a pathway towards the fastest growing industries in the state. But Missouri is now back to square one after the new governor vetoed the initiative.

The bill had two sections: one proposing computer science policies supported by Code.org and the other outlining a provision for a separate STEM-focused program that we did not endorse. Ultimately, the governor stated the bill was vetoed because the STEM provision was narrowly tailored to benefit a particular STEM vendor.

As a result of the veto, high school students will have to wait at least one more year before counting computer science courses as a math or science credit towards graduation, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be stalled in creating K-12 computer science standards, and teachers will still have no ability to obtain a certification in computer science.

Missouri has over 11,000 open computing jobs, 4.3 times the average demand rate across all jobs in the state, and with an average salary of $82,050. The existing open jobs alone represent a $909,934,500 opportunity in terms of annual salaries. Yet only 69 schools offered an AP Computer Science course in 2016–2017. Of Missouri test takers, only 34 students were Black, 29 students were Hispanic or Latino, and 20% were female.

The governor has asked the legislature to send him just the CS package again, which he has committed to sign. We hope the legislature will quickly fulfill the governor’s ask so Missouri can join the rest of the country in expanding access to K-12 CS.

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Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.

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