Support for STEM and the Missouri tech space is uploading in Jefferson City, Ryan Weber said in light of successful legislation that will reformat the way high school students benefit from technology courses.
A bill increasing access to computer science courses — which gained a second life during a special session in September after previously being vetoed — was signed into law Tuesday. It allows such classes to fulfill math and science requirements in Missouri high schools.
“When this legislation was vetoed in May, we were concerned about the message it would send to tech employers,” said Weber, KC Tech Council president and an advocate for the bill.
Missouri school districts will adhere to the law during the 2019-2020 school year, he added.
Previously vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson, the bill was originally considered to favor a specific education provider when introduced by state Sens. Doug Libla and Travis Fitzwater in January. Parson urged lawmakers to return to the drawing board, acknowledging the bills relevancy, Weber said.
“Gov. Parson has conducted a statewide campaign supporting the need for a skilled workforce in Missouri,” Weber said. “His leadership on this issue has been overwhelming and cannot be understated.”
Passage of the bill falls in line with the governor’s prioritization of STEM education, he added.
A hurdle jumped, STEM proponents must not rest, Weber urged.
“Soon the state will have to consider how to properly fund computer science education and professional development for teachers,” he said of ways the tech community will need to continue their role as advocate.
Legislation like the newly passed bill further promotes efforts to build a broader tech-skilled workforce in Kansas City, Weber said, citing statistics that revealed weak spots in the metro.
According to reports, there are more than 10,000 vacant computing jobs in Kansas City with less than 2,000 tech skilled workers to fill them, he said.
Missouri this week became the 41st state to pass such STEM legislation, Weber said, signaling a clear commitment to building a broader tech skilled workforce.