Gov. DeSantis okay with substituting computer science over traditional math and science classes required for graduation

High school graduates
High school graduates. Photo ShareAlike Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday touted key computer science initiatives and said he’d soon sign legislation related to computer science education – though the bill includes other issues that may or may not be popular with students, families and math and science teachers.

The 65-page bill, sent to the governor on Friday for review, includes everything from changing graduation requirements to allowing controversial full-time “adjunct” teachers to head K-12 classrooms.

DeSantis made remarks at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo, where the Pinellas school is hosting a summer camp in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The governor made clear that he wants schools to embrace computer science and expose students to this kind of technology.

Several top state lawmakers attended as well as a representative from Code.org, a Seattle-based nonprofit that works to expand computer science in schools. Lobbyists representing Code.org in Tallahassee advocated for HB 7071, which includes computer science initiatives and other efforts. That’s the bill DeSantis is reviewing.

A Microsoft Corporation representative also attended the DeSantis event. Microsoft also had lobbyists in Tallahassee during the session, advocating for computer science and other issues.

In an unusual move, the HB 7071 legislation allows students to take Algebra 1 over two full years, getting two graduation-related credits for Algebra 1 instead of one credit. The bill also allows students to use a computer science credit – instead of a math credit – for graduation requirements in math. That computer science credit can’t be substituted for Algebra I or geometry.

Likewise, a student could use a computer science credit for a science graduation requirement. That substitution cannot be Biology 1, and the state will have to make sure the computer science credit is “equivalent in rigor to the science credit.”

State law says computer science “means the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, hardware and software designs, applications, and their impact on society, and includes computer coding and computer programming.”

DeSantis, a public school graduate from Florida, expressed support for the computer science credit substituting for traditional science classes – though the physics crowd might balk.

“I took classes that I enjoyed…like physics. Other than trying to keep my kids from falling down the stairs in the Governor’s mansion I don’t know how much I deal with physics daily,” the governor said.“You cannot live in our modern society without dealing with technology or computers in your daily life,” DeSantis said.

The governor also praised the Legislature for approving $10 million to train, recruit and retain computer science teachers. Some of the money would be set aside for bonuses for teachers in computer science.

DeSantis is reviewing that $10 million and the rest of the $91.1-billion state budget for 2019-20 that the Legislature sent to him Friday. He expects to veto at least some of the budget items approved by the House and Senate.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thought DeSantis was in the military – navy, right.
    Concepts I teach in physics – buoyancy, speed, acceleration, trajectory, radar, sonar. Might be useful in the military. Maybe I will tell my students they need to enlist in one of the other branches of the military, since they do not use these in the navy.
    If Ron had paid attention in class, maybe he would have learned that you should complete the entire assignment, not just part of the assignment. Like he plans on doing with a Florida expressway that goes to the FL/GA border, then stops.
    I can just see those computer science majors lining up to herd 40 students with 30 working computers, 1/3 on games, 1/2 on social media. Let’s start them at 35K and give them bonuses. Heck, they can work in charter schools, and they do not need a degree or a computer to teach class. Whoop,
    whoop!

  2. here is a great idea… lets forget about physics so we can all become slaves to it companys… they dont want you to be smart and think for yourselves… get rid of physics… lol while your at it get rid of English and math too… who needs it SMH!

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