In a recent column in the Washington Post, Jay Mathews has written what has become the emblematic anthem against algebra II in high school
I can understand the argument against requiring algebra II for graduation, since at one time that was the case. Students only needed two years of math, and that usually consisted of algebra I and geometry. But his argument seems to be to get rid of it altogether and in its place have courses that are more relevant like statistics.
He ignores the fact that if you really want to pursue statistics, you will have to have some facility in the topics taught in algebra 2. So what is he suggesting? Students should take that in college?
But there are ways to ease algebra II out of high schools. Gregg Robertson, longtime principal of Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington, Va., noted that his math department has courses in probability and statistics, both regular and Advanced Placement, as well as a dual-enrollment quantitative reasoning course through Northern Virginia Community College.
I think I’m reading that right. Easing algebra II out of high schools means it isn’t an option for anyone. Unless he wants to walk it back and say “What I meant was ‘easing it out of graduation requirements’ “. But he didn’t say that.
Mathews relies on the tired old arguments that supposedly give him credence: He took both algebra II and also calculus. He’s never used it in his life. There; that’s proof of its uselessness for you. Many people are not scientists, engineers, or mathematicians. Why not ask them if they’ve ever used these courses that are deemed so useless? Maybe such information would propel journos like Mathews to write more relevant columns.