Making Bright Futures relevant: Using Florida’s premier merit-based scholarship program to improve STEM-readiness

State Senator and former Yahoo executive Jeremy Ring has proposed requiring two computer coding credits in high school for Bright Futures eligibility (SB 468).  His bill also requires every Florida high school to provide computer coding instruction.  If Ring’s bill successfully completes its long journey into law, it’s likely that in many high schools computer coding instruction will be provided online.

Ring’s bill is the first legislative attempt to add course requirements for Bright Futures eligibility above and beyond Florida’s basic high school graduation requirements, which in math and science presently only extend as high as Geometry and Biology 1.  But Ring’s bill isn’t the first time that the idea of adding course requirements to Bright Futures eligibility requirements has been floated.  Back in 2010, Florida TaxWatch published an Ideas in Action piece that I composed which included a proposal to require high school courses in chemistry and physics for Bright Futures eligibility (linked here: taxwatch).  TaxWatch published another in 2012 that included the same proposal (linked here: TaxWatch STEM ready).  A piece I wrote for the Journal of the James Madison Institute in 2011 also proposed using Bright Futures eligibility requirements to incentivize STEM-readiness.

I’ve made the same argument in several op-eds, including this one last year in the Tallahassee Democrat.  In fact, the Democrat piece proposes requiring computer coding as well as precalculus, chemistry and physics for Bright Futures eligibility.

So…go, Senator Ring, go!  And if maybe you’ll consider it…add chemistry, physics and precalculus to your bill so that our Bright Futures recipients are fully STEM-ready for all of the new economy’s most lucrative careers – not just computer programming.

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