Iowa House: Don't Mandate Computer Classes

Mar 4, 2016

Iowa school districts will not be required to offer at least one high school computer science class under a bill that was scaled back in the Iowa House this week. 

The bill instead creates an advisory committee to make recommendations in time for the 2018-2019 school year. 

The committee will address whether schools should include a unit on coding for seventh and eighth graders.  

They’ll also consider whether students should be able to take a computer class to meet a school’s math requirement, and how many new teachers would be required.    

Rep. Greg Forristall (R-Macedonia) says he looks forward to seeing the committee’s work.

“We have plenty of time after we receive the information from the advisory committee to enact requirements or change the course work in high schools,” Forristall says.   “It doesn’t go into effect for another 28 months.”  

Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines) offered the amendment to scale the bill back.  She opposes putting the extra burden  on schools.

“The amendment strikes the unfunded mandate on schools for implementing these courses,” Gaines said.

Representative Forristall says currently there only 39 schools not offering computer science.

“I think this is a case where a lot of school districts have gotten ahead of the code,”   Forristall said.   “We will look at this again next year.”

Rep. Dawn Pettingill (R-Mount Auburn) voted against the bill.  She objects that the state is currently not supporting financial literacy classes in Iowa schools.

“That’s more important than coding,” Pettingill said.