How the hell is Arkansas leading the nation in teaching kids to code?

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There has been increasing pressure from corporations and organizations to start teaching kids how to code and, while several local and state government have made promising moves toward this goal, it wasn’t until just recently that a state passed a comprehensive law requiring all high schools to offer coding classes to students. What’s surprising, however, is that it wasn’t a tech-loving state like California or Washington, it was actually Arkansas. 

Arkansas may be one of the last states that comes to mind when you think of major hubs of tech talent. And yet, last month, it became the first to pass a truly comprehensive law requiring all public and charter high schools to offer computer science courses to students, beating better known tech centers like California and New York to the punch. If for one reason or another you’ve been following local Arkansas politics, this should come as no surprise. During his run for governor last November, Governor Asa Hutchinson made computer science education for all one of his core campaign promises. “It’s probably the first time in the history of politics that the word ‘coding’ was used in a political commercial,” Hutchinson tells WIRED. It’s not because Hutchinson, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has a personal passion for coding (he confesses he only recently learned what “Javascript” is), but because he believes fostering a generation of computer science-savvy graduates will give an unprecedented boost to the Arkansas economy in years to come.

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