From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
In the past seven years Arkansas has made tremendous improvements in computer science education. We’ve even earned national recognition for the progress we’ve made.
In 2015 we enacted a new law mandating that computer science be offered in every high school.
We also added computer science to the curricula of elementary and middle schools, so that students would gain exposure to computer skills at an earlier age.
Last year the legislature passed a requirement that high school students must complete at least one computer science in order to graduate.
We also required every high school to have on staff at least one certified computer science teacher.
The number of certified computer science teachers in Arkansas has increased from 20 to 600.
At the same time, participation among students has increased by more than 770 percent.
It’s encouraging that more females and African-American students are signing up for computer science courses.
I’m happy to report that in spite of the excellent progress we’ve made, we are still striving to improve.
The Arkansas Education Department is launching a computer coding project designed to increase learning in sixth grade and middle school. It’s called “Read, Code, Create.”
Every sixth grade in Arkansas has access to additional training for a teacher, who will learn to integrate computer and technology with literacy and critical thinking.
Arkansas colleges and universities are rapidly expanding course work in cyber security, preparing graduates for one of the most in-demand careers in the world.
Salaries begin at $100,000 a year for graduates with a degree in cybersecurity.
The state’s investment in broadband is essential for bringing computer science education to every corner of Arkansas.
Within a few years, every student in in the state should have equal access to high speed Internet that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data.
Every child in Arkansas is capable of learning the necessary skills for holding down a well-paid and fulfilling job.
As elected officials, it is our duty to provide our children with that opportunity.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.