Computer coding could fill foreign language requirement in Florida schools

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WFLA) — Lawmakers in Tallahassee will vote next week on a bill that would allow high school students to substitute computer coding classes for foreign language requirements.

Andrew Ladanowski and his son Jeremy are walking the halls of the state capitol on a mission. Pass legislation allowing Jeremy and other high schoolers to take computer coding classes instead of a foreign language.

“It’s very important for me and my son because my son has speech apraxia, so he has a difficulty pronouncing words, pronunciations, as well as a learning disability in respect to speech and language,” Andrew Ladanowski explained.

Right now high school students aren’t required to take a foreign language to graduate. But if they want to have a scholar designation, which gives them a better chance of getting into college, then they have to have two courses.

Now one lawmaker wants to say computer coding should satisfy that requirement.

“There’s a lot of critical thinking that goes into it, it is a global language,” said Sen. Jeremy Ring, D, Fort Lauderdale.

The legislation is slated for a vote by the full Senate next week. Some educators are pushing back, arguing that while computer coding may be useful, it doesn’t use the same brain activity as learning a foreign language.

“It would take me forever to pass a foreign language,” Jeremy says.

“He won’t have the time and energy to excel in the courses that he does. We’d like to maintain those A’s and B’s in the science, technology and mathematics and we worry that we spend all the time and resources trying to learn this foreign language that those grades will slip and the opportunity of going to college will be diminished,” Ladanowski says.

Jeremy says he could envision himself being an IT person. “Something to do with computer science,” he says.

If the bill becomes law, it doesn’t take effect until the 2018 school year, which means freshman and sophomores currently enrolled would have the opportunity.

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