How a State Plans to Turn Coal Country Into Coding Country

Dana Goldstein:

There is little evidence that public school computer science lessons can drive economic change. But those who see them as fundamental to understanding today’s world say the grand promises from politicians do not matter. Nationwide, most students never have the opportunity to take a coding course. Now Wyoming’s 48 school districts have until the 2022-23 school year to begin teaching computer science at every grade level.

“I’m comfortable with the economic argument happening because a side effect of that is tens of thousands of fifth graders learning programming who otherwise wouldn’t have had that opportunity,” said David Weintrop, a professor at the University of Maryland and an expert on how computer science is taught.

Full of coal mines, vast cattle ranches and snow-capped peaks, Wyoming is perhaps an unlikely leader in a drive to bring coding into the classroom. Computer programming and software development account for fewer than two jobs per 1,000 here, compared with 19 per 1,000 in Washington State, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.