Last week, HB 495 passed through the Florida Legislature addressing many public education issues. Among them, were provisions for computer science instruction promoting opportunities for middle and high school students to learn computer science from qualified teachers.
This bill expands and creates opportunities for teachers to prepare to teach computer science courses and through the Florida Department of Education, awards funds to school districts to provide computer science preparation courses for teachers.
Access to computer science is expanded through a requirement for all middle and high schools to offer courses either in person or online through Florida Virtual School.
Governor Rick Scott believes that the promotion of tech in schools will help grow Florida’s future workforce and advocated for funding for computer science and increased opportunities for students to learn in his proposed 2018–19 state budget.
While this bill is a step in the right direction, it lacks some key provisions that would dramatically increase access; namely the $15 million in funding that was laid out in Gov. Scott’s proposed budget. In January of 2018 Governor Rick Scott proposed a a fiscal year 2019 budget that included $15 million to expand access to computer science by providing bonus incentives for computer science teachers and funding professional development. This proposal was ultimately not reflected in the final state budget.
We look forward to working with the state and will continue to advocate for even more access to computer science in Florida. Thank you to our partners — Amazon, College Board, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and TechNet — for your tireless work in ensuring our students have access.