Va. Lawmaker Wants to Allow Students to Take Coding in Place of Foreign Language

By Marva Hinton — January 26, 2017 1 min read
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Another state lawmaker is proposing that coding classes take the place of foreign language classes in high school.

This time, the legislation has been proposed in Virginia.

The bill filed by Republican Delegate Glenn Davis would allow high school students to substitute a computer coding credit for any foreign language requirement for graduation. But there would be an exception in cases where a foreign language credit is required to earn an advanced diploma.

The bill has been assigned to an education subcommittee.

A Florida lawmaker has proposed similar legislation. Under Sen. Jeff Brandes’ bill coding classes would satisfy the requirement of two credits of sequential foreign language instruction. His bill would also require state colleges to accept the coding credits in place of foreign language credits, and parents and students would have to sign a statement that, “they acknowledge and accept that a computer coding course taken as a foreign language may not meet certain out-of-state requirements.”

Another coding-as-a-foreign-language bill passed in the Florida Senate last year but died when the house decided not to take it up. A coding bill in Michigan faced a similar fate last year.

Texas passed a bill in 2013 that allows students to substitute computer coding classes for a foreign language but only after they’ve taken a foreign language class and performed poorly.

The push to have coding classes replace foreign language classes is not without controversy. Some in the coding community say the two aren’t equivalent, while foreign language advocates argue that these courses provide cultural lessons as well as an opportunity for students to learn key lessons about human communication.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.