Find Bill
Find Your Legislator
Legislative Deadlines
Dec. 13, 2022
RSS Feed Permanent URL -A +A

Minutes for HB2183 - Committee on Education

Short Title

Requiring a computer science course for high school graduation.

Minutes Content for Wed, Feb 20, 2019

Chairperson Huebert called the meeting to order and asked for approval of the minutes. 

Representative Dietrich moved, Representative Xu seconded, that the minutes for January 29, February 5, and February 6 be approved as presented. Motion carried. 

Chairperson Huebert opened the hearing on HB2183

Jason Long distributed a proposed substitute bill for HB2183, (19rs0988).  (Attachment 1) The substitute modifies the bill significantly by taking away a mandate that all schools must offer a computer science course, instead, a computer science course in high school, that is presently an elective, would be counted as one of the three math or three science credits required for graduation. 

There was a brief discussion about the changes, between Revisor Long and the Committee. 

Chairperson Huebert invited the Oral Proponents to speak.

Proponent Anna Hennes, with Brian Baker, explained the need their company (Cerner) and other technology companies have for trained computer science talent.  They recognize the good steps that are being taken and support the K-12 course work presently offered to Kansas students.  They want to do everything they can to encourage students with a talent in the area of engineering and computer science to build skills from an early age and continue their training through college, so that Kansas will have a highly qualified workforce to perform the jobs that are increasingly prevalent.  (Attachment 2)

Proponent Kristi Brown, clarified that the Kansas Chamber supports the substitute language.  The need for students who are well versed and trained in computer coding and engineering are in great demand.  If the training starts young, the students can advance at a quick pace.  For Kansas business to grow, there must be training.  (Attachment 3)

The Conferees stood for questions.  The issue of who, the State Department of Education or the Legislature, is responsible for curriculum decisions, was discussed at length. 

The Chairperson invited the Oral Opponents to speak.

Opponent Mark Desetti stated that the substitute bill was more acceptable, but he questioned whether Computer Science should qualify as a science credit.  He noted that elective courses, like foreign languages, are not frivolous, but often very key to a student's success.  Is it necessary, then, he wondered, to make it a graduation requirement and perhaps take away a more traditional science course from a student's education.  He felt this needed to be a issue decided by the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents.  Although the Kansas National Education Association supports the inclusion of Computer Science courses, he stated that to legislate this change is the wrong process.  There are other, more effective ways to encourage schools to highlight Computer Science training. (Attachment 4)

Opponent G.A. Buie also felt more comfortable with the substitute bill as Kansas School Administrators had been uncomfortable with the mandate, so they stand in a neutral place with the changes made.  Computer science is a valuable course, but there need to be preparatory classes set up in lower grades.  He noted that adding an "additional" credit for the course might be an option, but he was concerned about taking away one of the traditional three science offerings.  He recommended taking the idea directly to the Kansas State Board of Education and/or the Governor's Education Council.  (Attachment 5)

Opponent Rob Gilligan concurred with the previous conferees in that the proposed substitute is more acceptable.  However, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) strongly believes in local control, and that school boards should be given this issue to decide.  They believe in the State Board's initiative, Kansans Can, that focuses on preparing students for the technologically advanced future and strong computer science training is very important.  There are very good intentions behind this bill, and it is a good conversation for the Governor's Education Council, and the State Board of Education.  Although he supports the intention of the bill, KASB is not supportive of the process of legislating curriculum.   (Attachment 6)

Opponent Erin Gould spoke as a parent, and challenged the path this good idea is taking.  She stated that this needs to go through the State Board of Education, as legislating this is redundant, and it undermines the authority of the Board that is tasked with setting graduation credits.  She is also concerned about the influence of Cerner, as she believes individual businesses should not have an outside chance to influence law.  There are regular channels, forums and other paths to encourage the educational community to strengthen in certain areas, and those channels should be taken by everyone that wants to change current educational standards.  (Attachment 7)

Written Only Opponents:

Monica Crowe, Kansas PTA  (Attachment 8)

Patty Logan, Stand Up Blue Valley  (Attachment 9)

Chairperson Huebert thanked the opponents for their testimony, and he noted that although as a student he took math and science extensively, when he started working at Boeing, he struggled with computer science.  His own experience encouraged him to give this bill a chance because he believes it is such an important area for those students entering business now, and in the future. 

The conferees stood for questions and there was a brief conversation with the Committee. 

The Chairperson closed the hearing on HB2183.