When was the last time you used the quadratic equation in your real life? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Still, agility with mathematical concepts and operations is important. Does math education need a makeover? Emeritus political science professor Andrew Hacker assesses the situation in this July 2012 *New York Times *editorial.

Hacker, “Is algebra necessary?"

- Hacker emphasizes, at several points in the essay, that he highly values mathematics; indeed, he considers mathematics to be “integral to our civilization.” Despite his reverence for mathematics, though, he argues that taking and passing algebra should not be obligatory in high school or college. Why are these two assertions not contradictory? Summarize what Hacker says about the difference between mathematical competence and algebra. Do you agree with the distinction he draws? Why or why not?
- Hacker proposes that, instead of algebra, other forms of “quantitative reasoning” could be taught; one of his suggestions focuses on the Consumer Price Index. Do you agree that a course or unit on the CPI would be a useful alternative to algebra? Why or why not?
- In addition to figures and statistics drawn from a variety of sources, Hacker’s They Say includes statements by several educators. Choose any two such quotations and evaluate how well Hacker frames them in a “quotation sandwich,” as described in Chapter 3 of your text.
- To what extent does Hacker’s essay apply to your personal situation? Did you struggle through algebra in high school? Will you need to score well in algebra for the degree or certificate you are currently pursuing? Hacker asserts that “[d]emanding algebra across the board actually skews a student body, not necessarily for the better.” Write an essay responding to that assertion. Use your personal experience as evidence, and take a position that supports, selectively supports, or refutes Hacker’s argument that algebra shouldn’t be obligatory for all programs of study.

I disagree with other forms of "quantitative reasoning” in replacement of rudimentary algebra. Its a really cheap thing to do just take those classes math helps you make sense of things.

Posted by: Trey | 09/10/2017 at 11:32 PM

I believe that algebra should be mandatory. You can use math in many ways than you realize throughout your day. You may not be using algebra, but taking algebra helps train your mind to do calculations faster than you would have done without algebra.

Posted by: Trevor B | 10/07/2017 at 08:33 AM

I feel as if algebra should be something that everyone has to learn during their educational career. It is a baseline for many other fields in math and definitely helps in understanding those other courses. Most people use algebra in their everyday lives without even realizing it. We develop a better ability to problem solve by learning important math subjects such as algebra. Being a college student and taking courses that apply directly to algebra and building off of its core ideas means that having previous classes in algebra is very important. By replacing algebra with other math courses people will lose some of the core basics to algebra and might have a harder time later with a math class or even whatever job they may have.

Posted by: Nick S | 10/11/2017 at 11:22 AM

I believe that basic algebra should be taught to everyone because there are some things we use everyday. It is especially important as an introduction to other math courses. Even by replacing algebra with other courses the students would still have to be taught some algebra anyways to keep up. That being said, I personally took two algebra classes and I think that was unnecessary. Just a simple basic class will do just fine.

Posted by: K Thompson | 10/11/2017 at 11:41 PM

I believe that algebra should continue to be incorporated into classroom curriculum everywhere. Sure I may not be using the quadratic equation in everyday life, but algebra benefits me in areas such as basic problem solving and even specific tasks such as dosage calculations in my nursing classes. These are all things people forget when they talk about algebra.

Posted by: Aaron | 10/11/2017 at 11:49 PM