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Computer Classes Legislation Gets Committee Nod
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Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, and Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, have announced that AB 1764, a bill that would encourage districts to expand computer science courses in high schools, has unanimously passed the Assembly Committee on Education.

Computer Science drives innovation and economic growth in California and across the country. By the end of the decade, over half of all jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States will require highly technical computer knowledge and experience. Yet, demand for computer science graduates here in California far exceeds the number of degrees.

“We must integrate technology courses into our K-12 curriculum so that our students have every opportunity to gain skill-sets that match the needs of our economy,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “I thank my colleagues in the Committee for recognizing the need to better prepare our students for the demands of the workforce.”

AB 1764 would allow school districts to award students credit for one mathematics course if they successfully complete one course in computer science approved by the University of California and/or the California State University as a “C” requirement. Such credit would only be offered in districts where the school district requires more than two courses in mathematics for graduation.

California schools are falling behind other states in both their use of technology in the classroom and the courses offered. At the same time, computing jobs are growing at 4.3 times the state average. According to the Conference Board and the National Science Foundation, as of December 2013 there are 77,309 open computing jobs in California but only 4,324 computer science graduates. In states where computer science counts as an academic class, 50 percent more students enroll than in states where it is treated as an elective.

“This is an important step forward in making computer science classes more accessible,” Assemblymember Buchanan said. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues on the Assembly Education Committee and look forward to continuing to move AB 1764 forward to ensure that our students have access to more high level computer education courses.”

Andrea Deveau, California Executive Director of TechNet, a sponsor of AB 1764, said, “The technology field will continue to be one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy, producing good jobs for Californians. These jobs will require certain skills and a proficiency in the technology of today and tomorrow. In order for California to remain competitive as a source of talent for the tech sector, it is critical that our students have access to critical computer science education and training.  AB 1764 is a crucial step forward to achieve that goal.”

AB 1764 passed the Assembly Committee on Education on a 7-0 vote and will be heard on the Assembly Floor in the coming weeks.