author photo
By Cam Sivesind
Mon | Mar 27, 2023 | 9:37 AM PDT

North Dakota is the first state in the U.S. to approve legislation that requires the K-12 school system to develop computer science and cybersecurity integration plans.

Cybersecurity education is a central component of landmark House Bill 1398, signed into law by Governor Doug Burnum and expected to garner final approval July 1, 2024.

"Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues we have in North Dakota," Gov. Burnum said, while addressing the cybersecurity education legislation at the bill signing ceremony.

The legislation will require cybersecurity coursework for students from kindergarten through 12th grade and minimum requirements for high school graduation.

The move is fitting as schools are being targeted more and more by ransomware criminals that put student data at risk. The very students that could be affected by malicious hackers could some day be fighting to keep the data of others safe.

Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent of North Dakota K-12 Schools, said: "Today is the culmination of years of work by stakeholders from all sectors to recognize and promote the importance of cybersecurity and computer science education in our elementary, middle, and high schools."

Alon Gal, Co-Founder and CTO at cybercrime intelligence company Hudson Rock, told The Cyber Express: "Teaching cybersecurity to K-12 students is incredibly important. With the increasing prevalence of technology in our daily lives, it's essential that we educate young people on how to stay safe online by helping them develop important skills like identifying phishing scams, creating strong passwords, and understanding the dangers of oversharing online."

Work on House Bill 1398 started back in 2015 when the Department of Public Instruction formed a working group of legislators and other stakeholders to craft a vision for K-12 education's computer science and cybersecurity instructional needs.

"This bill is truly rewriting the narrative for students, for teachers, and for the leaders of today and tomorrow. Our students are already working hard to make our state better and to solve the problems that the world is facing," said Zoey Bundy, a senior at Davies High School in Fargo.