Mississippi school superintendents gathered in Madison last week, ahead of a key legislative deadline of Tuesday, March 3, to show support for a bill that would bring computer science education to all 877 of the state’s public elementary and high schools.
“Computer science is as important in today’s world as reading, math and science proficiency,” said Dr. Phillip G. Burchfield, executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. “It’s an integral part of our commitment and responsibility to prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges that they will face in a 21st century world that’s infused with technology.”
Computing jobs are the leading source of new wages in the U.S., with more than 500,000 unfilled slots nationwide and over 1,000 in Mississippi alone. The average salary for computing jobs is $72,039, almost double the statewide average.
Despite strong support from parents and teachers, computer science is taught in less than half of the state’s high schools. In a recent Gallup poll, 78 percent of Mississippi principals said they believe computer science is just as or more important than required core classes, and 93 percent of parents want their child’s school to teach computer science.
C Spire has invested more than $3 million since 2015 in coding challenges, coding academies, pilot accelerated degree programs and other efforts designed to inspire and encourage students to consider pursuing academic degrees or professional careers in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields.
The computer science education legislation, SB 2284 by State Senator Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, and HB 1165 by Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, is awaiting action by the education and appropriations policy committees in both houses. The deadline for committee action on the two bills is March 3.
To learn more about the need for computer science education in K-12 classrooms or to get involved in the grassroots “Mississippi’s Future Can’t Wait” campaign, text FUTURE to 50457 or go to www.ourMSfuture.com.