Democratic State Senator Jeremy Ring, who represents a district in Broward County and is a former executive at Yahoo, has become a lightning rod because of his bill (SB 468) that would raise the profile of computer programming education by allowing programming courses to substitute for foreign language requirements for Bright Futures scholarships and admission to public colleges and universities.
During the discussion of the bill by the Senate PreK-12 Committee on December 3, Senator Ring responded to a question from a panel with a brief assessment of Florida’s present STEM education policy:
We talk about STEM all the time. To me, STEM is pure hollow rhetoric. Look under the hood. What does it mean? What have we really done? We’ve created a handful of electives…This is one of the few things we’re doing that’s going to create substance behind the buzzword of STEM.
Indeed. To get beyond the rhetoric on STEM education, we need more students to actually learn to program computers. We need students to learn math better (and solve the middle school math crisis, which we are completely ignoring right now). We need more students to learn physics and upper level math. We need to figure out how we are going to recruit more strong math and science teachers. Playing games with robots and holding a few high profile science fair events largely populated with students who have extraordinary parental support is not nearly enough.