When Alex Tabarrok effusively praised my interview with Effective Altruist Rob Wiblin of 80,000 Hours, I got a little nervous.  Me:

And again, Washington state from what I understand, now allows kids to use a computer language in place of foreign language.

Why nervous?  Because I’ve mentioned Washington’s foreign language policy in several interviews, but never verified my claim.  When I write, I check any fact I’m less than 95% sure of.  When I speak extemporaneously, however, my standards are admittedly lower.  Yes, adding “from what I understand” acknowledges my lower confidence level.  But what’s really going on in the state of Washington?

Answer: the Washington legislation did indeed consider a bill along these lines, known as  HB-1445 2015-2016.  The gist of it, courtesy of Ars Technica:

Two Washington state legislators have recently introduced a bill that
would allow computer science class (e.g., programming) to effectively
count as a foreign language requirement for the purposes of in-state
college admissions. On Wednesday, the bill was presented before the
Washington State House of Representatives Committee on Higher Education.

House Bill 1445 would
amend current state law, which only recognizes “any natural language”
that is “formally studied… including a Native American language,
American Sign Language, Latin, or ancient Greek.”

Contrary to what I told Wiblin, however, the bill still seems to be stuck in committee three years after its proposal.  A similar 2015 Kentucky bill failed, too

In sum, I erred.  One of the few bright lights of reform that I thought I saw in the current educational landscape was a mirage.