Does Joe Biden have any idea about what it is to learn to code?

Does Joe Biden have any idea what learning to code is?

The Washington Examiner found an example of a blithe claim from him last year about how he "helped" get 54 Detroit women, mostly 'of color' and 'from the hood' with high school degrees and GEDs, to enroll in a 17-week government program to "do computer coding."

DES MOINES, Iowa — Joe Biden Wednesday bragged about time he spent in the "hood," a place where he said he found "women of color" he helped train to do computer coding.

Speaking at a rally, the former vice president elaborated on how U.S. workers need to receive better education to prepare themselves for a changing economy, and used a visit to Detroit, Mich., to describe how businesses went to local organizations that help train minorities various coding and technical abilities.

"Through a program we had through community colleges, we can teach people how to code," Biden said. "We went out, literally into the hood, and they found, turns out, 54 [people], they happened to be all women, the vast majority were women of color, no more than a high school degree, aged 25–54, and a third of them only had GEDs."

The Examiner and the Detroit Metro Times earlier focused on the improbable — and patronizing — spectacle of Old Joe going into 'the Hood' and somehow getting hold of black female gear-turners laid off from the auto industry to enroll in the program, a variant on the 'learn to code' trope for displaced workers.

And if you look at the Wayne County School of Continuing Education's website, it's likely that that the program he was talking about was this.

"It's not rocket science," he cheesily assured. 

Since I am enrolled in one of these programs in the San Diego Continuing Education program, all I can say is, It's damn close.

What amazes me is how easy Biden thinks learning to code is, and how you can take just anyone from 'the hood' and solve every problem in the workforce by making someone a computer coder. 

Speaking from experience, coding, actually, is not easy.  It's a significant and valuable skill that people make careers out of after significant investment, and to achieve anything at a certificate level's worth of knowledge is going to take hours and hours of diligent effort.  At a minimum, it requires absolutely pristine spelling skills because coding can't work otherwise.  Do a lot of GED-holders have those?

Assuming they do, coding takes considerable precision, patience, and detail-orientation.  It takes a logical, disciplined mindset, focused on certainties, rather than malleable capacity to move facts around as, say, journalism favors — which is why it's a running joke on Twitter that laid off journalists should 'learn to code.'  People who can code know very well it's something that the journalists they despise are pretty unsuited for — and they're laughing up their sleeves because the journalists don't even know it and would be in for a surprise.  Coding takes time, lots of time, with lots of repetition.  Perhaps some assembly line workers would be suited to adapt that aspect, but it's not going to be the ones with three kids to take care of.

I'd like to know how big the classes were at the beginning that produced those 54 female graduates.

In San Diego, the students seen do come from a variety of racial and social backgrounds, but they tend to be middle-class, and they are often older students who work in related professions.  You don't see too many total neophytes making it through.  The drop-out rate from those with low education and skills to start appears to be pretty high, particularly because the classes are free.

The Examiner and the Detroit Metro made a big deal about Biden's claimed familiarity with black people in 'the hood,' which, of course, he knows little about.  But he's also quite a boob about just what it takes to learn to code. 

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