One item that came from the Hour of Code was that programming should be required in schools if we want to see our young people learning computer science and being introduce to programming languages. As I was looking through the prefiled legislation for the upcoming session, SB14 stuck out. SB14 will allow students to use a programming class as the foreign language requirement. It looks like at the beginning of 2014 there was a lot of debate about it as Jacob Candelaria tried to introduce it during the previous legislative session.
I think it is great to attempt to promote programming in schools and something I certainly support, but I can’t help but think this is the wrong way to go about it. The foreign language credit serves a completely different purpose than a computer language credit would. Foreign languages help introduce you to a different culture, how languages can work, they increase your communication skills and I think help with the understanding of your primary language. Spanish/bilingualism is extremely important for New Mexico, with companies locating here to access the bilingual talent, not to mention the increased traded and partnerships with Mexico. Finally, any foreign language is going to be college prep because most universities will require foreign language credit. Some research shows that code.org and others also disagree with this approach.
This is a list of the current graduation requirements for NM. In a perfect world I think they would change an elective credit into a computer science/programming requirement. I’m not sure if this is the right choice for New Mexico because I don’t know if there are enough teachers throughout rural New Mexico to support a mandate like that.
The next best would be to let computer science count as a science or math credit, which is one of the primary actions code.org is promoting. I would love to see if this could be modified to count programming as a science or math.
On a different note I am looking a starting a Coder Dojo in Albuquerque. It will need volunteers, if you are interested send me a message.