The Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, is dealing with his state's need for educated workers by touring high schools to encourage students to immerse themselves in computer science.
Over the course of the next month, Hutchinson will be visiting around nine high schools. This is his second Coding Tour, beginning on August 22nd and ending on September 13th.
His Coding Tour schedule is available on the governor's website, according to Sri Ravipati of THE Journal.
Hutchinson has been an advocate for computer science education. Last year he signed a bill into law that mandated computer science classes in every public high school and charter school in the state, and allocated $5 million of state funding to help make that possible. Texas and West Virginia are the only other states that require all high schools to offer computer science courses.
According to Erica Sweeney of AMP, courses offered included Essentials of Computer Programming, Computer Science with Mathematics, AP Computer Science, IB Computer Science, Programming I & II, Java I & II, Intro to Object Oriented Programming, Computer Science and Software Engineering, Computer Game Design and Development, Intro to Mobile Application Development, and Mobile Application Development I & II.
Over the 2015-2016 school year, 3,973 students have enrolled in computer science courses in Arkansas, with more than 550 taking more than one course. 2,004 students were enrolled in the new course Essentials of Computer Programming, which was in its first year. The governor's goal is for 6,000 high school students to take computer science courses each year.
In February, he partnered up with four other governors, Code.org, Google, and Microsoft to launch a program for K-12 computer science education in other states. The program is known as the Partnership for Computer Science, or GovsForCS.
In June, he revealed an initiative to build awareness about computer science and other STEM-field topics in middle schools in his state, reports Alex Koma of State Scoop.
In a statement, Hutchinson said:
"I look forward to visiting schools across the state to continue promoting my computer science initiative in Arkansas. It's always encouraging to meet students who are excited to learn how to code, and it's important that we maintain to momentum of this movement and continue to build awareness of the exciting opportunities in STEM and computer science fields."
Arkansas has 1,701 open computing jobs, yet only 293 students took the AP computer science exam in 2015. Out of these students, only 22% were female, 24 individuals were Latino, and 15 were black. However, this marked a 300% increase in female students, and a 609% increase in black students.
Also in Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas has launched a coding academy, reports Susanne Brunner of Arkansas Matters, which is like a 3-month boot camp or intensive program to learn how to code. The boot camp will take anyone of any background and give them the training to be an entry-level information scientist or developer. The tuition cost is $6,000 and includes a laptop.