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Education Programming United States

Arkansas Is Now the First State To Require That High Schools Teach Coding 211

SternisheFan writes Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide "a workforce that's sure to attract businesses and jobs" to the state. $5 million of the governor's proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas. Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor's goal is to give students the opportunity if they "want to take it." Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state's math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students. Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless.
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Arkansas Is Now the First State To Require That High Schools Teach Coding

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  • ... do some other things first. [wallethub.com]

    Arkansas is ranked 44.

    • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @10:58AM (#49308355) Journal
      You have to start somewhere, and doing something proactive is statistically better than doing nothing.

      While this opportunity will not much effect the future of most Arkansan students, there will be some individual talents discovered that would've otherwise been overlooked.

      • There are no statistics that indicate a push for coders is a good idea.

        Statistically, a negligible number of students could be affected in a positive way, but they have the tools trhey need to start learning from home.

        The rest of the effort is just a an appeasement to the tax payers in a state rated 44th overall.

        Coding will not save the Arkansas school system.

        • There are no statistics that indicate a push for coders is a good idea.

          Sure, but if in this example, you are Arkansas, it would be to your advantage to fill as many of the coding jobs with Arkansans as humanly possible.

          Statistically, a negligible number of students could be affected in a positive way, but they have the tools trhey need to start learning from home.

          The rest of the effort is just a an appeasement to the tax payers in a state rated 44th overall.

          Coding will not save the Arkansas school system.

          The propensity to describe the number of students affected as negligible is in direct proportion to previously held belief sets.

          • If you are in the business of selling coding educational crap, it would be to your advantage to do so in Arkansas.

            Statistically, their educational system sucks.

        • Schools are boredom generators which teach students to loathe and fear learning.

          Putting coding in the schools is a great way to plow salt into the fields and demoralize the next generation of programmers.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:41AM (#49308543)

      ... do some other things first. [wallethub.com] Arkansas is ranked 44.

      So your point is that instead of improving their schools, they should focus on improving their schools?

  • Into this. I'm glad they offer computer science classes. I would have taken one in high school if it was offered.
    • I took a CS class in HS. In 1975.

      Why do people see it as a radical new thing?

    • Into this. I'm glad they offer computer science classes. I would have taken one in high school if it was offered.

      Indeed. Which I'm a bit flabbergasted to read "1 in 10" schools don't offer CS classes? On first read I thought that couldn't possibly be correct.

      I was in high school 1986-1990, and we had a computer science class. Hell, we had Apple IIs in junior high, and we moved things around on the CRT using Logo programmong! Mind you, in high school we were instructed in BASIC and, of all things, Hypercard.. heh. Well we used Macintoshes.. IIe I think. But the class was there and it was a start for me.

  • Coding? (Score:4, Informative)

    by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:03AM (#49308379) Journal

    In germany Computer Science is a topic in "high school" since 30 years.

    Actually I belonged to the first class in my federate state who took it.

    Or do you mean with "mandatory" that it is mandatory for pupils? If so: that is retarded.

    • Re:Coding? (Score:4, Informative)

      by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @12:19PM (#49308713) Homepage Journal
      In the USA, programming was also taught in schools 30 years ago. Now, however, they teach "Computers" instead of programming. As far as I can tell, "Computers" means how to surf the internet and burn illegal copies of games and music. After having gotten an "A" in computers, my stepson had to ask me what a good program would be to use if he wanted to write an essay.
      • by readin ( 838620 )
        I found this pretty frustrating when my kids took a computer course and found it basically consisted of learning to use Microsoft Office. No bytes, bits, binary calculations, parts of a computer (input, output, processing, RAM, etc.). In my mind the only useful part of the class was that they got a chance to practice keyboarding.
  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:11AM (#49308415)

    ... when the problem is corporate greed that supports CEOs and shareholders.

    The middle class is collapsing and it's in a panic. They know where the money is going and they want to prepare their kids so they will be able to play on that turf.

    There's no money in coding and, only a tiny percentage of kids have a natural aptitude for it.

    The money grab supported by Congress, PACs, Big Business, and SCOTUS has reached a critical mass where there are two layers to American society:

    1.) The haves
    3.) The have-nots

    There are no realistic cures, either ... certainly not teaching children to code.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Actually, if you are lucky, talented and well-educated in CS, there is money on coding. Most people will never get there though and will just make it harder for those talented few to do so. In the end, everybody loses, as bad software is a massive drain on the economy.

      • Umm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:35AM (#49308511)
        If you're lucky, talented and well educated there's money in just about _anything_.

        At any rate I'm sure there's money in programming, because we wouldn't have so many businessman pushing people into it otherwise. If you see an education push into a field you can pretty much bet the reason is that somebody is tired of having to pay decent wages. The rich get supply and demand. I wish the working class did...
    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:57AM (#49308621)

      so much THIS!

      we can continue to ignore the current class warfare (war on middle class) but 'educating' kids in a field that is being given away exclusively to foreigners (there is a trend and it shows no signs of slowing down) is doing more harm than good.

      we have to have an honest talk in this country and decide what we want to do. do we care for our own people and encourage the middle class to rebuild itself? or do we take the republican view of 'I got mine, fark you!' and the have's continue to own the land and the have-nots continue to sink lower and lower in the system?

      if we want the 'I got mine, fark you!' world, then lets admit it and we can adjust accordingly. everyone should then go to school for 'business admin' and be able to manage the overseas 'talent'. but lets be clear; if we are going to be a land of 'managers', we will sink into being less than a first or even 2nd world country. once we lose our tech edge, it will probably be taken over by other countries and that will be the end of our tech leadership, world-wide.

      do we want to be a country of managers or do we want to take-back our country and keep our own thinking people employed?

      we need to discuss this. but the dialog does not ever happen. why? the ceo's don't want to shine light on their evil little plans....

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        we need to discuss this. but the dialog does not ever happen. why? the ceo's don't want to shine light on their evil little plans....

        The problem isn't just the CEOs. It's also the kids that have lost interest in education. Why should they ? They have pizza, computer games, cool shoes, and a parent that drives them everywhere.

    • All schools should be offering this as a mandatory program because of that tiny percentage with the real aptitude. If you don't expose the kids to the concepts and let the kids discover whether they do have the aptitude, you will only get a percentage of that tiny percentage self-adopting programming.

      If only one out of ten schools offers the opportunity, and I'll hazard a guess that most of the nine that don't offer it service poorer areas, then you're definitely got kids who have the mental mindset, but d

      • By your logic, every kid should be exposed to rigorous math, the violin, pharmaceutical sales, Christian evangelism ...

        Why choose coding?

        • We already expose them to enough math to trigger those who have the aptitude. As for your other examples, by the Gods, those are absolute evils, especially the violin.

          Joking aside, why not give them a similar level of exposure to the concepts of programming as we already to for math? It certainly beats some of the soft crap like "Life Skills" that gets pushed into the curricula.

    • "only a tiny percentage of kids have a natural aptitude for it."

      You have it completely backwards: coding is like playing the guitar: nearly anyone can do it to a satisfactory level.

  • Looking forward to squaredance instructions in public boolean http://www.ebaumsworld.com/vid... [ebaumsworld.com]

    "whop him low and whop him high, stick your finger in his eye, kick him in the shin, hit him in the head, hit him again if the critter ain't dead"

    (I grew up in northwest Arkansas and am allowed to make this joke /= trolling)

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:26AM (#49308467)

    A programming course can get you (maybe) a low-end, low-wage, no-future job, but that is it. Real CS skills are something else entirely.

    We already have far too many bad coders, and far to many people that could be good at it not entering the field in the first place due to that and the low-wages, bad work environments and lacking career options that causes. Really, programming well is something that needs a lot of talent, skill and education. And we urgently need to restrict professional programming to those that have all that. Everything else is wasting a tremendous amount of time and money, due to multiplication effects inherent to software.

    • Any high school class is not intended to establish a career. It is intended to begin you down a track of learning which will be rounded out in college and polished to a fine hone during your first job.
    • 30k would put you in the middle class here in AR. The cost of living here is low enough that your idea of a "low-wage, no-future" job is more than enough for the average Arkansan. I believe Arkansas is in a good position to be the place to "in-source" software and technology labor here in America. India's on the other side of the planet and there's a language and culture barrier. Send your work here please; you won't have any trouble understanding us, we're in a timezone you can tolerate, and we don't have

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Urgh, 30k being in the middle is pretty bad. In that case, this may actually be a reasonable option. I agree on the benefits re-onshoring. Sure, low-end workers suck all over the world, but the way they suck is different and if you are from the same culture, you actually understand how to still get reasonable productivity from them.

    • Hey, I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. It's a lot easier to grok CS when you can code up a few functions in some language.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Well, CS people that cannot code (which are rampart, especially in the IT security field), are a real problem. I like to compare them to an MD that cannot put on a band-aid. Still, the CS education on top is needed in order to get actual understanding.

        • Perhaps, but as a counter example, I never received any formal CS training and I'm a senior engineer at my company (SW architecture actually). Maybe that doesn't mean anything to you, but I do feel that I have the respect of hundreds of my coworkers and that I provide a valuable technical contribution to my company. (a fabless silicon vendor)
          But that said, I read CS papers voraciously, and dig in deep in a few of the CS topics that interest me. (operating systems & concurrency)

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      School is there to give you a foundation (logical thinking) and an opportunity to try different things do you can decide to study them in depth later. Few people will go into programming jobs out of school, they will study it at a higher level first.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        The OP called it "CS", which it is not. That is my complaint. Also, misrepresenting CS is a disservice to people, as they will not have a rational basis to decide on whether they want to go into CS or not.

    • Most programmers don't need computer science: when was the last time you really cared about the difference between a 2-3 tree and a red-black tree?

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Come to think of it, just recently. (It was AVL vs. red-black though. I went with AVL, despite that being generally discouraged because of code complexity.) When you do advanced stuff, this knowledge and the skills and insights that come with it are make-or-beak. And I should point out that still about 70% of IT projects fail (where "fail" is budget overrun > 2x or not completing the project at all; in many other the results underperform to a serious degree).

        The problem is that most programmers are produ

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:37AM (#49308519)

    Programming, for good or bad, is essential in the 21st century world. Students should be exposed to it, and learn a little bit about what it is, both to make a (slightly better) informed decision about careers and to have some appreciation of the role of coders in the economy.

    But there seem to be a lot of people that think a student can take one high school course and have a guaranteed high-income career as a coder. This reveals a great ignorance and condescension on the part of the adults - I very much doubt if any of them also expect a high school law course or biology course will guarantee a successful career as a lawyer or doctor.

  • So, Arkansas Is Leading the Learn to Code Movement [wired.com]: "Currently, he [AR Governor Asa Hutchinson] says only about 20 teachers in the entire state are âoeproperly preparedâ to teach these new courses..."

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      So? The twenty write the course and some math teachers look at it and probably find that apart from a bit of paper they are qualified to teach it as well, or at least they now understand it enough to teach it plus a bit more.
  • My High School offered BASIC and Pascal in the 1990s, and I found it tremendously helpful. I'm a Software Engineer today, and I doubt if I would have gone in this career direction if it wasn't for the classes and mentor I found at my high school.

  • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @02:02PM (#49309081)
    Saying "coding" instead of "programming" is like saying "ciphering" instead of "mathematics". Please stop. Imaging the headline, "Arkansas is now the first state to require that high schools teach ciphering". I'm not a computer programmer, but I think you guys are disrespecting your discipline by encouraging the word "coding".
  • A bit slow there guys. Where I live it was part of year ten advanced math in the 1980s.
  • One one hand, I am convinced school should teach basic skills and that there is a lot to improve there.

    On the other hand, I came to computing because of that the exact same kind of initiative in the 80's. The difference with today may be that it was not so obvious to have access to a computer at that time.

  • We live in a world of information. So let us teach them about information first. What is information? How has it been encoded, stored, reproduced, processed and transmitted throughout history? What is encryption? How trustworthy is a source of information? How do we assess that?

    It should definitely include some material about the concept of processing information by an algorithm. I am not sure that actual coding is really for everyone - but being literate about information definitely is.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors