Put aside your cynicism for a moment. It's hard, I get that, but just for a moment....
None of these coding initiatives are about teaching someone to code. It's about exposure. Think of football (or hockey, or ...) camp for 8 year olds. Very few of those kids are going on to a brilliant professional sporting career. So we should shut them down, treat any parent who enrolls their child in such a camp with derision, etc. Right? No? Why not?
Because sometimes the experience is more important then the result.
When I was 5, I got a chance to play with a Vic 20. My landlords' daughter showed me how to do the classic:
10 PRINT "Hello World"
20 GOTO 10
I remember feeling the world change. It was a different place then before I wrote and ran that program. I *GOT* it. I knew this beige box was going to change everything.
Years later, when I was about 8, the local Commodore club got a modem. I saw what it did and felt that feeling again. I pestered my mom to let me check it out from the hardware library for months before she agreed and I dialed into a local Radio Shack BBS. The sysop started a chat and we talked in chat. This was the future.
In the years since, I ran a Fidonet network hub, ran two freenets in two cities, was the sole technical employee for a regional ISP in northern Canada, and have endeavored to make the world a slightly better place. To build the future I glimpsed when I was 5.
You know what? Never became a programmer. I can barely program my way out of a wet paper bag to this day. I know the concepts and understand how to use those concepts in my professional life, but programming itself has never set my soul alight. Does that make the experience of the journey any less important? Does it mean that the 5 year old wasted his time?
I'd argue no. I have no idea how my life might have changed if not for that chance encounter when I was 5. Maybe I'd still have followed the same life path. But for some of those kids getting exposed with the learn to code movement, statistically speaking, it will change their lives.
For me, that's enough. My daughter went to Defcon (the hacker conference) when she was 3, so hopefully she got 2 years on me in feeling that wonder.