Is Coding the New Literacy?

Why America’s schools need to train a generation of hackers.
Grace Murray Hopper at the UNIVAC keyboard, c. 1960. Credit: Unknown (Smithsonian Institution)

In the winter of 2011, a handful of software engineers landed in Boston just ahead of a crippling snowstorm. They were there as part of Code for America, a program that places idealistic young coders and designers in city halls across the country for a year. They’d planned to spend it building a new website for Boston’s public schools, but within days of their arrival, the city all but shut down and the coders were stuck fielding calls in the city’s snow emergency center.