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Arkansas becomes the first state to mandate computer science offerings
Arkansas leads the way in computer science education with the passage of a bill requiring high schools to offer computer science courses. - photo by Leslie Corbly
Next school year, Arkansas will become the first state to require all public high schools and charter schools to offer classes in computer science, courtesy of a bill signed into law last month by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, reports Wired.

Hutchinson said the next generation would benefit economically by being more well-versed in computer science. Whether youre looking at manufacturing and the use of robotics or the knowledge industries, they need computer programmers, he said.

In addition to passing the law, Arkansas allotted $5 million for implementation this fall. The money will serve a dual purpose to train teachers and also reward classes with high performance and attendance, reports Wired.

Its a small investment with the opportunity for a huge return, said Hutchinson.

An online platform, Virtual Arkansas, will provide poorer districts online classes to make sure that students in all districts have access to computer science courses, reports Education Week.

"We will serve school districts that do not have a qualified teacher or the resources locally to offer these new computer science courses," said Cathi Swan of Virtual Arkansas.

The passage of the law makes Arkansas as a national leader in computer science education. Nationwide, only one in 10 high schools are teaching computer science and Arkansas is among few states taking action to address this issue, according to Education Week.

The law makes good on a campaign promise Hutchinson made to bring computer science classes to all students. While the classes are not mandatory, they do provide students the opportunity to pursue computer science as well as learn practical skills, reports Ubergizmo.

The importance of improving coding knowledge has been gaining traction in recent years. In 2013, President Obama endorsed the idea of making coding classes required material, saying, I want to make sure that (young people) know how to produce stuff using computers and not just consume stuff, reports Ubergizmo.
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