Here’s a simple algebra problem:

A + B = PZ

So California now requires algebra and geometry of all its high school graduates. Forty-four percent of all Los Angeles high school students fail algebra, and an additional 17 percent pass with a D.

This led Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to proclaim that “you will never need to know algebra.”

And this caused PZ Myers to spontaneously combust.

Reading the L.A. Times article, it sounds like the real problem is that California is trying to fix its schools by imposing standards from the top, rather than figuring out how to prepare students for high school math. It’s a tough problem to solve. Fortunately, Subway needs plenty of clerks, and their cash registers do the math for you.

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3 Responses to Algebra

  1. Scott says:

    If Cohen wanted to argue that California could do more to fix its schools by helping students rather than imposing standards, he could have started by not writing an appallingly idiotic column.

  2. dave says:

    Oh, yes, I wholeheartedly agree. But I think PZ is a little misguided, too, in ranting only about Cohen’s ignorance, instead of the larger crime that’s being perpetrated on California’s students by its school board.

  3. KaneCitizen says:

    You may be familiar with Bob Moses, who has a different perspective on this question.

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