Confluence Academies was honored to host Governor Mike Parson and several distinguished guests to Grand Center Arts Academy on Tuesday, October 30th to sign Missouri House Bill 3. Along with Governor Parsons, St. Louis Regional Chamber CEO Tom Chulick, State Representative Travis Fitzwater, with dozens of other elected officials from around the state, students, and staff were in attendance.
Passed during a special legislative session called by the Governor in September, HB 3 deals with computer science, expanding course opportunities for high school students, creating a certification process for teachers, establishing a fund for any future public and private financial support, and developing curriculum standards. The governor reported they're trying to fill an extremely wide employment gap.
"Right now, we have over 10,000 openings in just the STEM industry alone in Missouri," Governor Parson said during the bill-signing ceremony. "Now, if you can just imagine trying to meet that demand with all of the other shortages we have in all the other areas, it's a big deal."
Among other things, the measure allows Missouri high school students to substitute a math, science or practical arts unit of credit for a computer science course they need for graduation.
“Improving our workforce is a top priority with this administration, and in order to help move Missouri forward, we need to expand opportunities for our students,” said Governor Parson. “Missouri currently has a high demand in this field, and by signing this bill, our students will be able to get the proper training to succeed in computing jobs.
“Today is about our students, their future and the future of our community. STEM education has the potential to enhance the lives of future generations,” said Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, Chief Executive Officer of Confluence Charter Schools. “Moreover, the economic advantages of STEM careers are even more rewarding. Many employers are looking for workers with skills that require science, technology, engineering, and math skills. Our students need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. As important, STEM education teaches our kids to think deeply, to understand the world and to make critical connections that they can use to change it for the better.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit and handled in the Senate by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. The bill received broad public support by a number of business and education organizations from across the state.
"Today, many computer science jobs go unfilled because not enough high school students have been trained for the jobs,” said Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. “By improving computer science education in the state, we can better prepare our students for the many companies that desire and depend on these skills.”
HB3 will not only create a STEM awareness program for Missouri middle school students, but it will also expand course opportunities for high schoolers. It will create a certification process for teachers, establish a fund for any future public and private financial support, and develop consistent curriculum standards. Those measures are designed to allow for high school computer science credits to count toward a math, science or practical arts credit needed for graduation. In addition, an online course intended to boost career awareness for STEM professions will be created.
Following the signing by Parson, the new measure will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.