North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed legislation that requires cybersecurity education for all K-12 students – making it the first state in the union to do so.

The governor signed off on HB 1398 on March 24, requiring computer science and cybersecurity to be integrated into school coursework at the K-12 level. Public schools and districts in the state must develop and approve a computer science and cybersecurity integration plan by July 1, 2024.

“Our vision is to integrate and underscore the importance of computer science and cybersecurity instruction into the classes our students take as they move through our K-12 system,” North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a statement. “Under this bill, the information and knowledge our students need will be part of every grade level, which is appropriate when you consider the role that technology plays in our everyday lives.”

Baesler said that EduTech – a division of North Dakota Information Technology that provides IT support and professional development for K-12 educators – will develop examples of cybersecurity and computer science integration plans to help local schools to develop their own plans.

Gov. Burgum said HB 1398 is consistent with his administration’s emphasis on developing student and citizen knowledge of cybersecurity and computer science.

“Our students have more access than ever to computers and technology devices in our schools. It’s crucial that our students also learn cyber safety skills,” Burgum said. “The ability to manage technology is also important in helping our North Dakota students to get good jobs. Employers look for students who have the skills to take on tech challenges and cyberattacks, and complete daily tasks using technology devices.”

HB 1398 is the result of work that began in 2015, and Burgum and Baesler thanked the leadership of many for helping to get it across the finish line. Specifically, they thanked the bill’s primary sponsor, House Majority Leader Mike Lefor of Dickinson.

They also thanked the bill’s other sponsors, including: Rep. Glenn Bosch, R-Bismarck, the House assistant majority leader; Rep. Cynthia Schreiber-Beck, R-Wahpeton, the vice chairwoman of the House Education Committee; Rep. Anna Novak, R-Hazen; Rep. Emily O’Brien, R-Grand Forks; as well as Republican Senate sponsors Dean Rummel of Dickinson, David Rust of Tioga, and Shawn Vedaa of Velva.

“It was the leadership of this group of sponsors that helped HB 1398 get the overwhelming support it had in the House and Senate,” Baesler said.

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