LITTLE ROCK — Building on his initiative to have computer science taught in every public high school in the state, which was implemented in the fall, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday he wants to introduce computer science in kindergarten through eighth grade as well.

LITTLE ROCK — Building on his initiative to have computer science taught in every public high school in the state, which was implemented in the fall, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday he wants to introduce computer science in kindergarten through eighth grade as well.


Speaking at a news conference at eStem High Public Charter School in Little Rock, Hutchinson said the Arkansas Computer Science and Technology in Public School Task Force recommended creating a K-8 computer science program in a recent report.


Anthony Owen, coordinator of computer science for the state Department of Education, said a committee at the department has written a draft of standards for the proposed program and said the department is gathering public feedback on the standards now. People can view the proposed standards and leave comment on them in a survey at arkansased.gov.


The committee will meet later this month to consider the feedback and decide whether to adjust the standards accordingly, Owen said. He said the standards will go to the state Board of Education for a vote in January, and if approved they will be implemented beginning in the 2017-18 school year.


James Hendren of Little Rock, chairman of the task force, said the initiative will make Arkansas’ work force more attractive to businesses.


"It’s going to be a huge economic impact for Arkansas," he said.


Hutchinson said he believes that over time, Silicon Valley companies will "recognize that their cost of doing business will be better in Arkansas. You’ve got a source of computer coding talent that will match anyone."


In his weekly radio address, Hutchinson said Friday, "Through this groundbreaking initiative, Arkansas continues to lead the nation in computer science education. No other state is better preparing the next generation for 21st century jobs."