Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
May 30th, 2018 • News

This is Senator Keith Ingram reporting from the beautiful and historic hallways of your state Capitol.

In a sign of the times, the legislature’s Personnel Committee recently approved the creation of a totally new position in the state Education Department. The job title is Director of Computer Science, STEM Officer.

STEM is a fairly new acronym, but you will find it everywhere in our schools and colleges. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The state’s new STEM officer will be in charge of developing curricula in public schools that promote digital literacy. Hiring a STEM officer is yet another example of the fact that Arkansas has quietly moved to the head of the class in computer science offerings. Our progress in science and technology really took off in 2015, after the legislature required all public schools and charter schools to offer at least one computer science class at the high school level. The classes emphasize the technical side of computers. In other words, students don’t simply learn how to use computers, they learn how to make them and they learn how to code their software programs.

Since the legislature approved the initiative, there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of students taking computer classes. Legislatures in other states have also required schools to offer computer classes, but Arkansas is one of the few that also funded the necessary equipment upgrades. For example, Arkansas was one of the first half a dozen states to make high speed Internet available in all its school districts. We not only have provided the equipment, we’re providing the training and manpower, such as additional scholarships for teachers who want certification in teaching computer science. The legislature’s investment in STEM classes will reap dividends for decades to come, in the form of well paid jobs and productive citizens.

From the Capitol, it is always my deep honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.

      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from May 30, 2018