**HOW
LOW WILL THEY GO?**

*“College algebra is in the way of so
many kids. They can’t (pass) it and they
drop out of school. I’m not saying ‘dumb
down the curriculum.’ I’m just saying, “Let’s get stuff you can use for life.’” Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board
member David Leech ^{1}*

*“Implement high expectations in math
for all students. Allow all eighth-graders the chance to take algebra; those
that are not successful can repeat it in 9th grade.” Policy Foundation
recommendation, 1998*

(May
2012) The state Higher Education Coordinating Board’s decision to allow public higher
learning institutions to replace algebra as a graduation requirement for most
students marks a new low in declining Arkansas academic standards. The panel calls for college algebra to be
required for STEM^{2}
students while the requirement is dropped for other majors.

**Algebra in Skilled Trades & Everyday
Life**

High
school graduates in skilled trades also use algebra. Electricians work with circuits. “To become an apprentice, most people need a
high school diploma or a G.E.D.” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
explains. “Math classes, like algebra,”
the BLS notes are “very important.” Citizens also use algebra in everyday life
in calculations ranging from time and distance to Social Security
benefits. The panel’s action means fewer
Arkansas college graduates, long-term, will be able to make these important
calculations.

**Conclusion**

Every
Arkansas student should study algebra. Students’ inability to understand algebra
is a K-12 public school system failure, and should not be used as an excuse to
lower standards. The issue shouldn’t be,
‘How low will they go?’ It should be,
‘How high will our expectations take us?’

^{1} *Arkansas Democrat-Gazette*, April 28, 2012

^{2} Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math