A few years ago, a governor in Arkansas said he wanted to do something never done in the history of the state. He wanted to make sure every high schooler in Arkansas had access to computer coding classes, so they could get into things like programming and robotics.
When you ask most people where the technology hubs are in America, their minds probably go to Silicon Valley, New York City, or maybe Austin. But you probably won't get too many people to say Arkansas. Give it a few more years.
Arkansas is giving students opportunities to grow their interests in computer science they may not have had before.
As our country's economy shifts away from outsourced industries like manufacturing, one of the sectors that continues to grow is computer science. Americans are innovators. Go figure. Everything is going digital, from shopping to medical records. We need people to be invested in that future, because it's coming, one way or another.
Gov. Hutchinson's dedication to computer science education in Arkansas has garnered him national attention. Talk about vision. And now, the state might be preparing to take things one step further.
"An Arkansas panel on Thursday recommended the state require a computer science credit in order to graduate high school. The Arkansas Computer Science and Cybersecurity Task Force included the recommendation in a report it submitted to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on ways to expand computer science education," the Associated Press reported.
Why not? Even if students aren't planning on going into a computer science field, being technology-literate is a valuable skill needed in today's professional world. Do you remember how painful it was to watch members of Congress try to grill Google's CEO, only for some to end up embarrassing themselves because they clearly didn't understand the questions they were asking?
When typewriters were invented, schools required students to take typing. Eventually, as technology changed, that class became keyboarding. Now we have generations of students who know how to type before they have a diploma. Some learn how to type before they get out of diapers. Call it progress.
It really isn't that far-fetched to imagine taking things a step further and requiring some sort of computer science education credit. Arkansas students are already required to take things outside the English, science, math, and history core curriculum. Schools require classes like health and physical education. Adding a computer science class to the curriculum would be a great investment in the future.
Although San Francisco and Seattle might be the technology hubs now, the hope is Arkansas students who love their home state will start building the Silicon South right here. That brings jobs. That brings revenue. That brings the future to Arkansas.