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Delaware High Schools Could Be Required to Offer Computer Science Course

Lawmakers in Delaware are considering a bill that would require all public high schools in the state to offer at least one computer science course.

The state house unanimously approved the legislation last week, and now it's under consideration in the senate.

The bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Debra Heffernan, would require computer science instruction in all public high schools by the 2020-21 school year.

Last year, Heffernan told the Dover Post, "There are a lot of jobs that are open in the technology area in Delaware and nationally that kids are not qualified for, and they don't even know about it."

Katie Hendrickson is the advocacy and policy manager for Code.org. Through an email, she agreed that all high school students should have access to at least one computer science course.

"This is also an equity issue, because often students in rural areas or underrepresented minority students attend schools that don't offer computer science," she wrote.

Heffernan's bill would also allow a computer science course to satisfy one year of the total credit requirements in math with the exclusion of Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II or the equivalent courses starting with the 2018-19 school year.

Hendrickson called that a step in the right direction.

"Allowing a computer science course to substitute for a core credit for graduation (such as math or science) is a policy that has resulted in greater student enrollment in computer science in other states, with more females and underrepresented minority students taking computer science," she wrote. "It seems to be easier for students to fit computer science into their schedules if it counts towards a graduation requirement."

Under Heffernan's bill, computer science curriculum standards would have to be approved by the state board of education by the end of this year.

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