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Digital firm praises approval of computer coding as foreign language bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

As Florida lawmakers consider adding computer coding as an option for high school foreign language requirements, one technology firm enthusiastically applauds the move toward giving students a leg up in the modern workplace.

Strategic Digital Services, Florida’s leading digital firm specializing in data for political campaigns and causes, praised the passage Thursday of SB 468 through the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee.

The bill, co-sponsored by Margate Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring and Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of Saint Petersburg, seeks to allow computer coding classes as an alternative to foreign languages.

SDS co-founders Joe Clements and Matt Farrar, who see the proposal as a major step in developing Florida’s tech talent, released a joint statement on the bill’s passage through its first committee:

“This bill will help create an educational environment in our state that allows for children to develop skills no matter what their interests are. A measure like this is long overdue.

“When lawmakers talk about attracting high-tech companies and an innovative talent pool to match, they need to look no further than the future generations that walk the halls of Florida’s schools today.

“We can be a beacon for technology. We can be an ‘innovation state.’ But in order for Florida to compete in a global marketplace, we need the support of our leaders in Tallahassee to make it happen.

“Passing SB 468 out of its first committee is a bold first step toward a more innovative and forward-thinking Florida. We also firmly believe the Legislature should deepen their commitment to innovation and ensure proper funding investments are made in schools so students have increased access to technology as a learning tool.”

If passed, the bill would make such classes optional for students, saying, “High schools must provide students opportunities to take computer coding courses of sufficient rigor.”

Fernandina Beach Republican Rep. Janet Adkins, who chairs the House K-12 Subcommittee, has filed a companion bill. School districts would have until Jan. 27 to enact the curriculum that includes computer coding.

“If we simply set the goal post as a degree, then we fail in our responsibilities,” Brandes told the Miami Herald. “The ultimate goal post is a job, is a career.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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