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Wash. Bill Would Let High School Students Take Computer Science Instead Of Foreign Language

Courtesy of U.S. Deaprtment of Education

If you are in high school and you want to go to college, almost every school you apply to will require you to have taken at least two years of a foreign language.

A representative in Olympia says prospective college students should have the option to skip Spanish or Chinese and take two years of computer science instead.

Rep. Chris Reykdal, a Democrat from Tumwater, says while he appreciates and respects the time students put into studying foreign languages, the money the state spends could be put to better use.

“My God, we are spending 100 million [dollars] of taxpayer money every year in our high school system to teach world languages where more than half our folks a few years later will never use it again,” Reykdal said.

Reykdal is one of the main sponsors of a bill that would start a conversation: Should colleges and universities in Washington State require the study of a foreign language in high school? Should students have the option of swapping language out for computer science?

The bill, which had a hearing this week, asks the Office Of Public Instruction and the state’s colleges and universities to get together and talk about this. They’d have to report back to lawmakers by Nov. 1, 2017.

People from the higher education community who spoke against the bill say while students may not remember much Spanish or Japanese after high school, taking such classes makes them well rounded and culturally competent to deal with the world. 

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.