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August 25, 2014
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal returned to the Klaus Advanced Computing Building for a second time this year – this time to urge state educators to encourage students to take computer programming courses by allowing those classes to satisfy core high school diploma requirements.
Under the governor’s proposal, the programming classes could satisfy requirements for math, science or foreign language.
Deal said his proposal grew from conversations in the business community that increasingly stressed the importance of computer science skills in the workforce.
“A resounding theme as I talk to business leaders is that we need more computer programmers and software developers,” Deal said. “And we need to be teaching them before they go to college.”
Deal noted that computer-related employment is one of the most in-demand jobs in the Georgia job market today with a large majority not just in information technology but in programming and software development. He noted, too, that these jobs pay well with an average annual salary greater than $80,000.
And yet computer science is not available in all state public schools, and only 18 percent of students take AP computer science. Fewer than a percent of Georgia students took the AP computer science exam in 2013, he added.
He said his proposal is designed to expose more students to computer science. He said he would encourage the state Board of Education to adopt his proposal and then ask the Board of Regents to accept those courses for state college admission.
Deal last visited the College of Computing in April to sign legislation focused on extending state income tax credits to video game development. At that time, he met Chris Klaus, CEO and founder of Kaneva, who encouraged Deal to come up with ways to encourage more computer science classes at the high school level.
Klaus said many high school students miss out on a critical component of computing – the chance to create.
“They learn how to web surf but not learn how to actually build web sites,” Klaus said. “This is one thing the state can do to lead in this area. We may not only see the rest of the states to follow, but the rest of the world to follow.”