Arkansas Education

Asa Hutchinson computer science
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a measure requiring public high schools to offer computer science courses in the coming school year.

Hutchinson signed the bill Tuesday, following through on a campaign promise he says was inspired by his 12-year-old granddaughter learning computer coding. Hutchinson, a Republican, was elected in November.

Arkansas lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson a bill that would abolish the independent lottery commission and instead place it under Hutchinson's control.

The state House voted 84-3 Tuesday to endorse shifting responsibility for the games' operations to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The existing nine-member Lottery Commission would be dissolved and the governor would appoint a games director.

The president of the Arkansas State University System says a bill to compensate for dwindling highway maintenance and construction funding would be "catastrophic" for higher education in the state.

Charles Welch told the system Board of Trustees on Friday that he opposed the bill approved a day earlier by the House Public Transportation Committee.

Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) in committee earlier this month.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A push in the Arkansas Legislature to increase the presence of guns on school campuses made an advancement Thursday. The House Education Committee approved a bill that would give all private schools the ability to allow concealed carry holders on their grounds.

Republican Representative Grant Hodges voted for the measure and said it was meant to clarify a 2013 law.

All that's needed to return cursive writing classes to Arkansas classrooms is a signature by Gov. Asa Hutchinson - and if he signs it, it will probably be in cursive.

The state Senate on Thursday gave final legislative approval to a bill requiring public schools to teach cursive to students by the end of the third grade.

The measure passed on a 30-1 vote. Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia said he supports cursive classes but believes it's a matter for the Education Department, not lawmakers.

John Walker
Arkansas House of Representatives

Legislation that would loosen requirements for creating new school districts in Arkansas failed Tuesday in the House of Representatives, but its backer says he’ll try again.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle, where officials are studying options for leaving the Pulaski County Special School District. Sherwood is also considering creating its own district.

The proposal would reduce the number of students needed to form a new district from 4,000 to 2,500, which would be more in line with what those communities would have.

City of North Little Rock

“100 Girls of Code” officially is opening a local chapter in Arkansas. The initiative offers free workshops to females ages 12 to 18 to generate interest in computer science among girls. Each participant of the workshop learns computer-programming basics by building websites and video games.

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub has partnered with the organization to oversee the North Little Rock chapter.

UAPB Receives Grant To Study Foodborne Pathogens

Feb 11, 2015

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $149-thousand to study food safety.  It will allow research on controlling foodborne pathogens in ready-to-eat foods.

It specifically concerns natural microbrials and bacteriophage. Bacteriophage is a virus that doesn’t attack humans or animal cells, but kills bacteria. 

The project will be multi-institutional, with UAPB working with Mississippi State University, Arkansas State University and the USDA. 

asa hutchinson tim griffin common core
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A task force is being created to study Common Core education standards in Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday he will form a 16-member council led by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin to ensure the state’s public schools aren’t weakened by conforming to federal expectations.

Hutchinson, a Republican who promised such a review while running for governor, said they will have key goals to evaluate the guidelines. 

The Arkansas Senate has approved legislation aimed at clearing the way for districts to use teachers, administrators and other staff as armed guards and eliminating the regulatory panel that had resisted similar efforts in the past.

By a 33-1 vote, the Senate on Monday approved legislation abolishing the Arkansas Board of Private Investigators and School Security Agencies. The measure, which now heads to the House, would put the board's duties under the Arkansas State Police.