Obama and Hutchinson Have Eye On Computer Coding Education

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) in August supporting his computer coding initiative.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

It’s a connection that hasn't been made explicitly by the governor but the push for computer coding education in Arkansas has a bit of a parallel in Washington D.C.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has touted his belief in computer coding from the campaign trail in Arkansas to gubernatorial boosterism tours of New York and California. This week President Barack Obama used his weekly address to do the same.

“In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill, right along with the three “Rs.”

Governor Hutchinson said this in an October address.

“To compete in any field in the 21st Century, you need computer skills. They’re almost as fundamental as reading, writing and arithmetic.”

In the 2015 legislative session the governor pushed through one of his signature campaign pledges to require computer coding to be offered in every high school. His office reports about 4,000 students enrolled through both online and in-person instruction.

In his final State of the Union address the President proposed expanding access to computer sciences courses as one of the few bi-partisan ideas with potential to advance in his final year. He expanded his thoughts about it on Saturday.

“So I’ve got a plan to help make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science, especially girls and minorities.  It’s called Computer Science For All.  And it means just what it says – giving every student in America an early start at learning the skills they’ll need to get ahead in the new economy.

First, I’m asking Congress to provide funding over the next three years so that our elementary, middle, and high schools can provide opportunities to learn computer science for all students.

Second, starting this year, we’re leveraging existing resources at the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to train more great teachers for these courses.

And third, I’ll be pulling together governors, mayors, business leaders, and tech entrepreneurs to join the growing bipartisan movement around this cause.”