*"Down with Algebra II!",*which describes professor Andrew Hackers views on mathematics, and how the push for STEM, higher math like Algebra II, is actually creating a the failure and dropout rates we are seeing because it is pushing students into mathematics that is not necessary for their future endeavors and "destroying a tremendous amount of talent". The math requirements in high school and college are "highly irrational".

And then my friend sent me the same exact article via Facebook and asked my opinion. (This is what happens when your friends know you are a math person!). So - what is my opinion? I have to say, I completely agree with Andrew Hacker. In fact - I have written about it before a few times: Math Curriculum - What should we be teaching?; Financial Literacy - Real-world math, REALLY

*;*

__Let's teach probability & Statistics - We need it!__

Don't get me wrong - I think Algebra II and higher level math is important. I believe in the Common Core Standards, which recommend higher mathematical concepts. However - NOT for everyone. My friend who sent me the FB link, has a student with a learning disability who completely struggles in math. She was concerned because if Algebra II is a requirement, she knows her son will struggle, probably not get the grade needed, which will then hurt his chances of getting into a college of his choice. He is NOT planning to go into a field where he would need Algebra II, or Calculus. Which is true for many students. But - in our traditional curriculum, even with the Common Core, we push students along the following path: Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus. Maybe some Trig. Rarely do we push them into Probability & Statistics, and since Computer Science is usually NOT allowed as a math credit, we don't push them there either. And Personal Finance? Not even an offering in most places.

I will use my daughters as examples. The oldest is an art person - lives, eats, breaths art. If she could

Example Oldest Daughters Art - Acrylic |

I completely agree we need more students interested in STEM careers, however, not every student needs to be pushed here, especially if their interests lie in arts, history, business, computer gaming, etc. All students need math - and I am a big believer of math every year through grade 12. But - just different math. What I think, especially in this age of "personalized learning", is there needs to be choice in mathematics, and not the constant push to force all students down the same path, a path that for many is unnecessary and a road to failure. I definitely want students to learn math - and I truly believe in the Common Core State Standards - which emphasize problem solving, real-world application, critical thinking and conceptual understanding. All of these goals can be accomplished with other math choices. If we had other pathways for mathematics, we might actually find students developing an interest in math and pursuing higher level courses of their own free will.

A lot of districts will say they don't have the funding to offer more math choices. With online

Andres Marti Teaching Statistics w/TinkerPlots |

What is my ideal math menu?

1) Students should have at least 4 math credits to graduate high school. Math is important!

2) What are some required courses?

- Basic Algebra (abstract thinking is important and useful to everyone)
- Geometry (this helps with logic, spatial reasoning, etc.)
- Personal Finance (yes - EVERYONE)

3) What are some optional courses that count as MATH credit? (not exhaustive)

- Computer Science - all kinds (coding, robotics, gaming, etc.)
- Probability & Statistics (voting, sampling, etc...important for being a functioning person in todays' society)
- Advanced Algebra (Algebra II?)
- PreCalculus
- Calculus (A&B)
- Trigonometry
- Math for Medicine (i.e. for those interested in nursing or doctors)
- Accounting

There are more that could be added to the optional courses list obviously - this is just a smattering. But - what matters here is there is choice. And based on a students interests, they should be given the choice.

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