The Ohio legislature passed a bill that encourages computer science classes in Ohio high schools, but Springfield City Schools say they have been focused on getting students into these classes for years.
The bill, co-sponsored by a number of representatives and senators, do not mandate more computer science classes in schools but does require the state board of education to adopt standards and urges schools to look into adding computer science classes.
Springfield City Schools has tried to add these classes to the high school curriculum for a number of years already, Springfield City Superintendent Bob Hill said, and the bill is a step in the right direction.
“It legitimizes what we have been trying to do at Springfield High School,” Hill said of the bill.
Springfield offers students many computer science courses. Students can take robotics, video game design, coding and other classes at Springfield High School. Seventh and eighth graders also can take an introductory robotic and computer design class. Also, Horace Mann is offering a computer science class to sixth grade students.
The Springfield Dome also offers younger students courses in computer science every month.
“We know that technology is going to continue to expand and it is not going backward,” Hill said. “Here in Springfield, we bought in wholeheartedly with the belief that we are going to prepare our students not only in careers in technology but for careers in many other fields because technology is the basis of most what we do in society today.
Springfield senior Isaac Buzzard has taken nearly every computer science course offered by the school. He said he appreciates getting to learn about computers and how they work.
“I grew up very poor and coming here and having the opportunity to do this kind of stuff is amazing,” he said. “I have learned a lot. I have had a passion for computers my whole life. I have taken every single engineering and digital electronics course here and I have learned so much of it.”
Hill said he wants to expand computer science in the school, but state budgets and uncertainty about how schools will be funded prevents him from guaranteeing that the classes will continue to grow.
“As school funding continues to get cut, that puts us in an awkward position to figure out how we can expand or even continue these cutting-edge things we have done to benefit our students,” he said.
Another obstacle the school has to face is a teacher shortage, he said. Finding qualified teachers to lead classes in computer science can be difficult as most people with experience and a degree in the field opt to work in the profession as the pay is good.
Hill approves of the bill for many reasons, he said, but he especially likes that it is not another mandate on schools.
“I don’t agree with anything being mandatory, that’s part of the problem with education that too many things are mandatory,” he said. “There are many other districts that do not have the community support that we have and are not able to do this thing.”