As educators debate the importance of algebra, a new argument that it is an unnecessary stumbling block contributing to academic failure has sparked controversy.
“One out of 5 young Americans does not graduate from high school. This is one of the worst records in the developed world. Why? The chief academic reason is they failed ninth-grade algebra,” said political scientist Andrew Hacker, author of “The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions.”
Hacker is a professor emeritus at Queens College. He states that the jobs that require algebra and other higher math courses are at best only 5 percent of the total. He believes that the K-12 curriculum should focus on basic math ideas and statistics.
Many educators disagree with his idea. They find that while students need basic quantitive skills, algebra is also necessary. They believe that math and algebra need to be more effectively taught in order to better serve students.
“Every study I’ve ever seen of workers in whole bunches of fields shows that you have to understand formulas, you have to understand relationships,” said Philip Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and of public affairs at the University of Texas. “Algebra is the tool for consolidating your knowledge of arithmetic.”