A number of high school students and even college students have trouble with math. Specifically, these students have trouble with algebra and its offspring. This level of math can lead to significant roadblocks in the development of students’ education. According to Andrew Hacker, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school and algebra is often to blame. So, logically, we should get rid of algebra.
Removing algebra from the list of required courses would allow more students to finish high school with the tools they need. Hacker argues that the kind of math being taught by algebra isn’t necessary in the daily lives of millions of people and therefore we should not hold ourselves to its standards. Math, itself, is important but should be more focused on things like arithmetic and balancing checkbooks. The focus should be on the kinds of things everyone is required to do at some point.
Hacker continues by stating that 57 percent of the City University of New York students didn’t pass its mandated algebra course. Another figure used to support his conclusion is that only 9 percent of men and 4 percent of women received a 700 or better on the math section of their SAT in 2009. Even with all of this evidence, one can’t help but wonder if the emphasis is being placed in the wrong place.
All of these numbers and percentages only proves that the United States is failing at mathematics — and specifically algebra and its offshoots. The struggle here shouldn’t be whether we need to drop algebra but how we can improve our ability. In a lot of ways, logic and math go hand in hand. What is algebra if not logic?
To say that we are failing and need to do something about it is absolutely correct. To say we need to remove it from our path as a hindrance rather than overcoming it with improved teaching methods, enhanced mathematics programs, and funding in general is a mistake.
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