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 Leech1
“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 STEM2 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.
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