Rep. Tony Cárdenas today introduced the 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 Act of 2013.

facedown on keyboardNo, that’s not a typo (though if it were, it probably would have had to involve me passing out on my keyboard).

416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 is the hexadecimal code translation of “America Can Code” – Cárdenas’ bill would designate computer programming languages as “critical foreign languages,” providing incentives for state and local schools to teach more computer science beginning as early as kindergarten.

You know what I remember about kindergarten? Playing with wooden blocks. And snacks. But we live in a different world now, I guess.

“The very name of this law demonstrates that programming is simply another language,” said Cárdenas, D-Arleta. “Learning and communicating in a foreign language can have a tremendous impact on a student, both culturally and educationally. Computer programming creates a similar impact, while also providing a critical skill in today’s global economy.”

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, joined Cárdenas in introducing the bill as an original co-sponsor.

Computer programming jobs are growing at nearly twice the national average job growth rate, Cárdenas notes, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage in 2010 for computer programmers was $71,380, while the median annual wage for all workers was $33,840.

The nation will have an estimated 1.4 million computer programming jobs by 2020 with only 400,000 American computer science students to fill those jobs, he added. Nine out of 10 U.S. schools don’t even offer computer programming classes and in 36 states, computer coding classes don’t count towards high school STEM graduation requirements.

Along with redefining computer programming as a critical foreign language, the 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520 Act would create a competitive matching grant program for schools, particularly in low-income areas, to create new ways to teach computer science and engineering in cooperation with universities and non-profits.

“American students should continue to receive the understanding of other cultures that foreign language learning creates, but we should also be preparing American kids to compete in the world marketplace,” Cárdenas said. “Millions of jobs are being created in America, and all over the globe, requiring some level of coding knowledge. Let’s get American kids ready to compete for American jobs.”

UPDATE @ 6:01 P.M.: Some frighteningly adept people on Twitter have advised me that there is indeed a typo in Cárdenas’ coding; it actually would read as the “America Can Code ” Act – with an unnecessary space after the word “code.” If you drop the last two digits from the hexadecimal version (“20”), the space disappears.

My feeling is, better an extra space than a missing letter. Drop the last three digits (“520”), and you’ve got the “America Can Cod” Act – a fisheries bill, no doubt.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Marga

    Seriously? A foreign language? Look, they may be useful skills to have, but they are not languages people can communicate in. And they do lose their usefulness pretty quickly. I took Basic in HS, what good does knowing Basic do now? French,
    Spanish, still pretty useful 🙂

  • Elwood

    Doctor, my brain hurts!

  • JohnW

    Darn! Josh just posted my Facebook password.

  • Лена Головач

    America Can Code 416d65726963612043616e20436f646520


  • AmusedToDeath14

    It’s ridiculous that Rep. Honda is being painted as such an
    advocate for bringing computer coding curriculum into schools. He has
    absolutely no record on this issue. I’ve been following his opponent Ro Khanna,
    who on the other hand has focused on this for several months. It was even part
    of the speech he gave to announce his candidacy back in April: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCPeBqn6xY.
    It seems to me that Rep. Honda is just copying his opponent’s platform.