It’ll surely be overshadowed by his remarks on CNBC today regarding Confederate symbols, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson also wrote an op-ed yesterday for the business news network as part of its annual ranking of “Top states for business.” It bears mention given the ongoing uncertainty about the future of testing in Arkansas.
The governor argued that “Arkansas is the national leader in computer coding,” thanks to the new state law championed by the governor which requires all public high schools to offer computer programming classes beginning this fall:
As part of our initiative, the state set aside $5 million for teacher training and to reward high-performance schools. Programs such as “Virtual Arkansas” cater to our rural school districts, which may need to offer coding classes online at first. All in all, our groundbreaking plan to expose Arkansas’ students to computer coding represents a relatively small investment with the opportunity for a huge return.
Because of this legislation, within a few years I expect Arkansas to develop the most computer-literate workforce in the country. That makes Arkansas a top state for business like no other.
Really? Hutchinson expects $5 million and a new statutory mandate to make the difference across hundreds of districts statewide?
I think the idea of expanding coding in high schools — or, really, in younger grades — is a great one. But coding is bound up in both language comprehension and mathematics, and addressing the achievement shortfalls that persist in many Arkansas schools (despite years of gains the state as a whole has made in both math and ELA) is a job that’s orders of magnitude larger than $5 million.
If the governor wants Arkansas “to develop the most computer-literate workforce in the country,” he’ll have to invest the necessary money and energy into building early childhood education, programs that close equity gaps for low-income students, teacher training — and, yes, rigorous assessments.