Computers are a foreign language in Kentucky

The Kentucky Senate has decided that students in the state can use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign language requirements in public schools.

The idea behind Senate Bill 16, is to help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the computer industry. At the moment Kentucky students must earn 22 credits to graduate high school, but 15 of those credits represent requirements for maths, science, social studies and English and college prerequisites call on students to have two credits of foreign language.

Senator David Givens, a Republican from Greensburg who is sponsoring the bill wants colleges to count computer languages a “foreign language”.

He points at national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries.

There is some opposition to the move, which will re-enforce the isolationist nature of US education. After all, if young Kentuckians cannot speak French or German they will probably forget where these countries are. They will probably also try speaking Java to Italians which would not go down well.