From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
It may come as a surprise to people who think that Arkansas belongs at the bottom of education rankings, but we’re actually a national leader when it comes to teaching computer science.
For example, after a recent conference in Little Rock, the governor of Iowa went home with a notebook full of ideas from Arkansas.
They included a recommendation to require all high schools to offer at least one computer science class. We set that standard two years ago.
In 2014, about 1,100 high school students in Arkansas took computer science classes. This year, the number was more than 8,000.
I’m not talking about computer classes that teach young people how to use a computer, such as entering data and doing calculations on a spread sheet.
I’m talking about classes that teach students how to code, and how to write the programs that make computers function.
Another Arkansas idea that other states are copying is that we created a full time position in the Education Department to concentrate exclusively on computer science.
At least a dozen states have followed our lead. One expert who operates a coding website called our computer science director a “rock star.”
I must admit that I’m not an expert in computer sciences, but if they’re calling you a rock star, you must be doing a good job.
What’s encouraging is that Arkansas is not being complacent. We’re using our advantage in high school computer science as a foundation, to make improvements at all grade levels, from kindergarten to graduate school.
Over the long term, that translates into well-paying jobs and economic prosperity.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.