Coding With the Governor

NORTH LITTLE ROCK,Ark.--In 2015, Arkansas became the first to pass a law requiring Coding to be taught in every high school.

The man behind the mandate, Governor Asa Hutchinson.

KARK's Ashley Ketz joined the nearly 4,000 Arkansas students currently enrolled in Computer Science courses to take a crash course of her own.

With the Governor as her classmate, they picked up on a few things in an hour.

Third period was especially quiet in the North Little Rock classroom we visited, because it's not every day the Governor is sitting next to you.

"Scratch is a programming language made by some graduates of MIT," Justin Cobb, Computer Science Instructor said.

The day's lesson may seem like a foreign language for Coding beginners.

"The code over here is what's happening backstage, what's controlling it," Cobb said as he demonstrated what the program did.

Shaking his head, Governor Hutchinson said, "Might take a nose dive."

The goal was to tell a bird to fly up and down and side to side.

"So when this button is clicked right here, we're going to do something," Cobb said.

"Why do I feel like I'm holding back the class?" Governor Hutchinson said.

Before we can catch up with our classmates, the Governor and I get a refresher in Algebra.

"Do you remember which way is the positive x direction?" the teacher asked.

"To the right," Governor Hutchinson said.

"I'm going to give you a hint," the teacher said as he laughed.

Block by block, each command was a puzzle piece, an algorithm, a problem that needed to be solved.

We quickly figured out Coding is a team sport.

While laughing Governor Hutchinson said, "Did he just say all of that?"

"This is actually a really good thing, this is what we like to see in our class, neighbors helping their neighbor," Cobb said.

Having a live Coding Instructor, like Justin Cobb, isn't the norm, especially in Arkansas' rural schools where students take courses online through a program called "Virtual Arkansas"

"As you can see here,the teacher makes the difference," Governor Hutchinson said. "Slow down a little bit, you're going too fast."

That is why the state's new Coding mandate has set aside $5 million to train teachers.

"It's probably one of the most rewarding things I've done in public service, is to see this kind of change in a school environment,motivating young people, giving them greater opportunities and moving Arkansas a step up nationally and to be a leader. " Governor Hutchinson said.

Back in the classroom, we slowly gain confidence.

"We're catching on," Governor Hutchinson said.

We weren't quite ready to program a robot, but we did hear the sweet sound of success.

"We made sound!" Ashley said.

After the process was over, Ashley asked," As a student, how did the Governor do?"

"He followed along very well," Cobb said. "You did very well. You did a great job."

An Entry Level Web Developer can earn around $60,000 a year.

Good paying jobs are another reason Hutchinson's goal is to have 20-percent of Arkansas high school students taking some type of coding class.

This spring, the Governor will be visiting high schools across the state to encourage students to sign up next fall.

The new law allows it to count towards the state's math requirement for graduation.

To learn more about Governor Hutchinson's coding initiative, visit .

To try an hour of code, visit


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