State School Superintendent Kathy Cox is taking the wrong approach to improving math curriculum. Her plan is to have all high school graduates complete Algebra II by 2012.
As a high-tech professional, and having read Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, I appreciate the need to promote math and science. It is vital if we are to maintain our leadership in technology, so important to our economy and national security. Parents and counselors should encourage students to pursue technology careers. We must help children understand technology's importance for America's future.
But not all of us have an aptitude for math. Many can barely grasp the basics of Algebra I, much less advanced concepts of polynomials and imaginary numbers in Algebra II. Think of the poor math teacher who has to push these kids through. We would have to water down the course just to ensure most students graduate, and teachers would have less time with those who will need these concepts for college. This requirement would seriously increase the dropout rate.
How many of us have used any concepts from Algebra II for our jobs? Why go through the pain and expense of pushing future lawyers, police officers, bank tellers, realty agents and car mechanics - all productive members of society - through a class in which nothing will be used, and everything will be forgotten after the exam?
We must identify by middle school those students with the aptitude for high-tech careers, and develop them to the highest level. We also need to promote applicable math for those not bound for high-tech careers. We need to teach the effects of compound interest, interpreting statistics, and quantitative analysis of business processes, all things they will need in the work force.
Cox's one-size-fits-all solution to education is wrong. Education should be as varied as the real world, or it will bear no relationship to reality.
Joe Fausnight, Evans