ANNA LIZ NICHOLS | The Associated Press
LANSING, MI – Instead of learning a foreign language, Michigan students could take computer coding classes to replace the high school graduation requirement, under a bill passed Tuesday by the State House.
Currently, the Michigan Merit Curriculum, which dictates the state’s academic standards for graduation, requires students to take two world language credits to receive a high school diploma.
Before the bill was passed, the bill’s sponsor, Rep.Greg VanWoerkom, spoke about the value of coding in Michigan’s major automotive and tech industries, as well as how ‘it is a good alternative for children who have difficulty with traditional language lessons.
“Besides being a tough skill employers actually want, coding. helps develop general skills. Coding promotes the use of logic, reasoning, problem solving and creativity, ”said the Norton Shores Republican. “Any professional coder will tell you that mastering coding takes years of practice and a thorough understanding of the language.”
In opposition to the bill, Representative Padma Kuppa said that while she understands the importance of adding more technological education to curricula, having had a career as a mechanical engineer, coding n is not a foreign language. Students need both computer and technological skills and foreign language skills.
“As technology helps the world become more interconnected, our ability to understand and work with others on technical projects around the world is not only related to the ability to code, but also to understand ourselves.” said the Democrat of Troy.
With the passage of the State House, the bill will now have to authorize a vote in the Senate and then obtain the approval of the governor.
VanWoerkom sponsored legislation allowing coding classes to override global language requirements in 2019, but it was not presented to the House for a vote.
Anna Liz Nichols is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.