Tomorrow, state lawmakers and education officials will meet on Beacon Hill to hear a proposal that would mandate computer science classes in all Massachusetts public schools.

The plan would integrate computer skills into the state’s public school curriculum and standardized tests starting as early as the eighth grade.

Executives from top tech firms including Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and Intel Corp. have formed the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network, or MassCAN, in support of the proposition. They have offered to help fund the proposal in hopes that their contributions combined with money from President Obama’s new federal budget that would provide $3.1 billion to science and technology instruction in schools might facilitate the purchase of new equipment as well as the retraining of teachers for the initiative.

While supporters aim to create a new local pool of candidates for programming and engineering positions, opponents argue that the financial implications of the pitch would be detrimental overall. Instead of absorbing the costs of implementing the proposal, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education commissioner Mitchell Chester suggests that schools should incorporate computer science into existing coursework or address individual strategies on a district-by-district basis.

Massachusetts is no stranger to the value of a technology-based education. US News ranked MIT as the best school in the world for an undergraduate degree in computer science, with Harvard rolling in at number five on the list. In addition, Forbes classified computer science as the third most valuable college major last year, with a starting median pay of $56,600 and a mid-career median pay of $97,900.

Image via Boston University