SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Encouraging more Illinois students to pursue an education in the country’s fastest-growing career field, state Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, is a chief sponsor of legislation that seeks to increase funding for computer science courses in public high schools.
“Opportunities for good-paying jobs in computer science are expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next decade – much faster than the average,” said Villa. “Unfortunately, Illinois has not been ahead of the curve when it comes to equipping our schools to provide the building blocks for students who might be interested in pursuing a career in this field. Only 35 percent of our high schools provide opportunities for exposure to computer science classes.”
House Bill 817 creates a grant program, subject to appropriation by the General Assembly or private donations, to support computer science education in high schools. While these funds may be used to contribute to staff salary and equipment purchases, at least 20 percent must be spent on professional development opportunities, training staff to integrate computer science into their curriculum. School districts with the greatest financial need would be prioritized for grant funding.
“Students who are exposed to computer science curriculum in high school are six times more likely to pursue this major in college. Young women with computer science experience are ten times more likely to enter this field, which has historically been dominated by men,” Villa said. “Funding computer science ensures that Illinois students, particularly women and kids growing up in communities with fewer resources, are equipped to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.”