Arkansas has advanced a bill that would require school districts to provide computer education for students. The bill is part of the Governor’s agenda aimed at bringing modern skills into education. The plan was presented by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View.
Under the terms of the plan high schools will have to provide either in-person or virtual instruction of at least once computer science course next school year. The school system will also form a task force in order to build out and improve the computer science curriculum in the state.
An additional proposal would waive the fees school districts pay to Virtual Arkansas – an online learning platform for Arkansas schools if they provide the computer science class online.
Following passage of the bill, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement – “I am very pleased that the General Assembly has passed my plan to offer computer-coding classes in high schools across the state. I especially want to thank Rep. Bill Gossage and Sen. Missy Irvin for their leadership in guiding it through the Legislature. By passing this bill, Arkansas will become a national leader in computer-science education, and we’ll be preparing a workforce that’s sure to attract businesses and jobs to our state. Of all the big-ticket items we’ve dealt with this legislative session, this relatively small-ticket item may have the greatest long-term impact.”
The legislature is also considering an expansion to an in-state online university – eVersity, which is a project of the University of Arkansas system. Unlike for-profit online university ventures, eVersity is backed by an accredited traditional university system. Courses taught through eVersity could be made available to students at a lower cost.