The idea that computer science should become a core aspect of K-12 education is gaining significant political currency around the country, but current state-level initiatives have so far been fairly weak.
Many initiatives, such as one in Washington state, seek to have computer science count toward math and science graduation requirements. Texas last year mandated computer science education in schools, but has largely failed to fund and enforce the new rule.
Meanwhile, Arkansas took the lead in pushing computer science in schools last month when it passed a comprehensive law requiring all public and charter schools in the state to offer computer science courses. The initiative was a key element of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's run for office last fall. Hutchinson says he views the effort as a way of boosting the Arkansas economy.
Unlike Texas, the Arkansas law is funded, with particular attention paid to training and making resources available to teachers. Teacher training will be very important because, as Hutchinson notes, only about 20 teachers in the state are "properly prepared" to teach the new computer science courses. To assist teachers, the state is offering them access to supplemental training and other resources through the Virtual Arkansas online education portal.
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