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.

Read it here: 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

I believe that schools should continue to teach algebra. The author is mistaken because he overlocks the fact that algebra is essential in order for students to understand other math concepts. Though I concede that algebra may not be as important as other math concepts I still insists that it is necessary to learn.

Posted by: Emma | 10/28/2017 at 07:27 PM

I always thought that algebra is an essential science that enhances the understanding of this world and makes you look at it through a different paradigm. The various companies, like https://flashessay.com/do-my-math , Google and Microsoft have already proven the importance of it.

Posted by: Josh Riley | 12/26/2017 at 12:40 PM

I think that it's really important to have algebra skills. While I do agree that some of the algebra they give us in school is a bit out there, those skills can be used in our everyday life. For example, learning how to find out how much money we need to have in a month is really important. So if we are able to find out about how much we make in a week and how much all expenses are needed to live, we are able to start also putting some of it in savings. That's why I say they should keep making it so important for students to know, because yes it make seem like a useless skill, but it has a lot of uses in the real world that everyone should need to know.

Posted by: Austin Maloney | 09/04/2018 at 11:03 AM

Very few people seem to excel at higher levels of math or want to do it for that matter. It can be discouraging when you don't do well in these classes for lack of interest or the necessary developed ability, but still you must somehow pass the classes anyway. I've found that the lack of gifted math teachers can contribute to this problem. I myself was pretty bad in high school math, and more skilled and interested in art. Online learning where you can learn at your own pace and see the subjects from many different angles can help. These days I study math as a kind of challenge or intellectual curiosity. Though I've gotten better at it, subjects like calculus are still difficult at first and have a steep learning curve. However, it's rewarding when you finally show some progress, and with some effort you can surprise yourself.

Posted by: Ben | 09/04/2018 at 11:11 AM

In the article “Is algebra necessary?" created by Hacker emphasizes, he claimed that mathematics is surely significant for our cities and the country. However, he doesn't think it is right to require students in high school or college to study mathematics instead of making it alternative. From my perspective, I think her opinion is great, but it is not convincing enough for me to agree with. Firstly, I am majoring in engineering which is required tons of calculations, and I am really tired of math.So, if the math is optional in college, will the person like me take the classes? nobody is sure about that. Furthermore, if all those majors that required massive of math ability while the math is not requiring, how can people tell the effectiveness of the college or the major?

Posted by: Jiacheng Zhang | 09/04/2018 at 11:28 AM

I agree with the article "Is Algebra Necessary?" by Andrew Hacker because its main point of argument stems around the idea that the high school and college system is based on math and how high a person is able to go. This means that a person who has superior skill in English would be viewed as non intelligent because English is not as important of a skill in regards to jobs. The student would only be viewed as non-intelligent because colleges and high schools are based around a system where they are able to order and number students based on their level of math they are able to achieve and understand. Colleges and high schools view math as a way to measure students in regards to knowledge and how well they are able to solve math problems which is something that may not relate to the students future job goals. Having schools focus on math causes the student to realize that they are being "punished" for not understanding math and are not being rewarded for being excellent in non-math classes. This would ultimately affect the students psyche because the student would not be receiving any praise for all the hard work they would be doing. The student would only receive criticism because they are not able to take harder math classes and or pass basic "...algebra..." (Hacker). This would ultimately lead to students trying to pass these math classes in which they (the students) would struggle with. Theses students would struggle because their minds do not allow them to quickly and easily understand math. The students would then have a higher chance of giving up on taking math and or dropping out of math classes because they are mentally incapable of understanding what the lesson is trying to tell them. The lessons also do not relate to the real world which is applicable so the student may not feel the need to learn the material because they (the student) are unable to see how it benefits them.

Posted by: A.S.M. | 12/09/2018 at 05:07 PM

In the article, "Is Algebra Necessary?" Andrew Hacker states that he does believe that mathematics is significant for our countries development. Although he does believe this he also believes that it should not be a requirement for students to have to take it, and they should be able to take classes like quantitative literacy which actually help you with everyday things. He also talked about many different studies he read about, like how in a study taken on two-year schools less than a quarter of the students passed their algebra classes. (Para. 8) In my opinion, students should get a basic understanding of algebra in high school, but when going on to college if you are not pursuing a major that needs advanced algebra then it shouldn't be required. Especially if students are failing or wasting their time having to retake the course like all of the studies that Andrew Hacker cited in his article has shown then I feel as if students shouldn't have to take them.

Posted by: Bullough Nevin | 01/22/2019 at 11:16 PM

On one hand, Hacker argues that forcing students to pass higher level math classes such as algebra is unnecessary and limiting their abilities. On another, he argues how algebra is valuable. While some may argue these statements and even call them contradictory, my views are identical to Hackers. Hackers main argument comes from his beliefs that by setting up such high-level math classes as a mandatory thing we are holding back many minds. By making courses such as algebra mandatory it causes many to drop out or give up. Personally, I have also been burdened with this identical problem and can say that my mandatory need to pass algebra has led me to even consider changing my major. I feel as though it is absurd higher levels of math prerequisites are needed for many degrees, although are not used on the job. While I understand basic knowledge of math skills are necessary, I do not believe higher levels should be mandatory for degrees and jobs where there will not be a use of them. Hacker also conveys this opinion and also provides evidence when he states, "Nor is it clear that the math we learn in the classroom has any relation to the quantitative reasoning we need on the job. John P. Smith III, an educational psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied math education, has found that “mathematical reasoning in workplaces differs markedly from the algorithms taught in school.”" Although I feel as though many times algebra is not necessary for certain degrees and jobs, I do not feel as though it is unimportant. I understand algebras importance and how there are certain situations in which the needing of it could arise, but I believe Hackers idea of "citizen statistics" is a noteworthy concept. A course that teaches algebra in everyday situations and numbers instead of equations made up could be more beneficial in real life situations. While some may argue with Hackers, "Is Algebra Necessary" I agree and feel as though his ideas are insightful.

Posted by: Smith Natalie | 01/22/2019 at 11:28 PM

I think that students will largely benefit from reducing the amount of obligatory algebra. It's true that students should learn math up to a certain point, but it shouldn't be expected of students to take 3 years of math in high school especially since most of these math skills won't be used in the future. There are many other classes that should be obligatory instead that would actually aid students in their future, but instead students have to take math classes because it's expected of them.

Posted by: Drue | 04/17/2019 at 08:07 AM

In his article, ‘’Is Algebra Necessary?’’ Andrew Hacker argues that mandatory math, specifically algebra, is not beneficiary to the students of our schools and needs to evolve into something not nearly as rigorous or advanced. Hacker begins claiming that algebra is the main reason for students to drop out of school, citing several statistics from both high schools and colleges. Hacker goes on to also argue how the mathematics required in high school and college is basically useless as only a, ‘’mere 5 percent of entry-level workers will need to be proficient in algebra or above.’’ He does concede that a good basis of numerical skills should be taught, and that mathematics is ‘’integral to our society’’ but believes that required algebra is asking too much. Hacker proposes that we reduce and evolve the math taught in our schools into something more practical and useful in the real world. He believes that doing this would help prevent students from dropping out, allowing students to continue their education.

I disagree with Hacker’s view that mandatory algebra is not beneficiary to the students of our schools. While algebra and other advanced math like calculus will probably go unused in the work force by most, I believe that it is still integral to the development and conditioning of our minds. What I mean by this is that learning algebra along with other areas of math, improve and develop areas such as problem solving and analytical thinking in us. The development of skills gained by algebra like problem solving and analytical thinking in our youth is key in the future success of our country and economy. Also, if we make algebra non-mandatory, its safe to say that other harder subjects like chemistry will follow suit and that most students will not take these non mandatory courses. Is that a risk we our willing to take for our future? Another reason for mandatory algebra is that there are those who have no interest in math prior to algebra but then fall in love with math because of it, becoming some of our future scientists and great thinkers. While I do concede that there are improvements in the way that we could teach and implement algebra, it would be extremely foolish to make it non-mandatory in our schools.

Posted by: Wiley Harbison | 10/07/2019 at 12:59 PM

In this article, ‘’Is Algebra Necessary?’’ Andrew Hacker brings up the point that maybe algebra should not be mandatory and backs it by citing statistics of dropout rates in high schools and colleges and it points to the reasoning of the dropouts being because of algebra. He also states that he doesn't want to get rid of basic math because everyone should agree that it's necessary to know “decimals, ratios, and estimating” but does believe that algebra should be a choice in high school and college. Even though there is evidence of dropouts being related to algebra I don't think high schools should give the choice of basic algebra. I do agree with some points that he makes being that most jobs won't end up using the "quadratic equations" and that schools could be using this time to "discover and develop young talent". But with that being said I think algebra is necessary for young minds to develop, algebra is all about problem-solving and the world needs as many problem solvers we could get. In conclusion, I think that students should have a basic understanding of algebra in high school but in college, it shouldn’t be a necessity if your major won't benefit from a more advanced algebra.

Posted by: Andrew | 12/01/2020 at 01:25 PM

In the article, "Is Algebra Necessary?", Andrew Hacker contends that required math, notably algebra, is detrimental to young students and should be replaced with something less hard and advanced. Hacker begins by saying that algebra is the leading cause of student dropout, citing figures from both high schools and universities. Hacker goes on to suggest that the mathematics necessary in high school and college is essentially pointless since only a "mere 5% of entry-level jobs will need to be adept in algebra or above." He admits that a strong foundation of numerical abilities should be taught, and that mathematics is "integral to our civilization," but he argues that requiring algebra is too much to expect.

Though Hacker has no credentials in administrative education or mathematics recommends that we simplify and adapt the arithmetic we learn in school into something more practical and helpful in the real world. He believes that by doing so, students will be less likely to drop out and would be able to finish their studies.

I disagree with Hacker's assertion that required algebra is harmful to young students. While most people will not utilize algebra or other complex math like calculus in the workplace, I feel it is still important for the growth and training of our minds. This means that mastering algebra, along with other areas of math, helps us strengthen and develop skills such as problem solving and analytical thinking. The development of mathematics abilities such as problem solving and analytical thinking in our young is critical to the future success of our country and economy. Also, if we make algebra non-mandatory, it is reasonable to assume that other more difficult disciplines, such as chemistry, would follow suit, and that most students will not pursue these non-mandatory courses.

Is it a risk we're prepared to accept for the sake of our future? Another justification for necessary algebra is that some students who had little interest in arithmetic previous to algebra fall in love with it, becoming some of our future scientists and outstanding thinkers. While I agree that there should be changes in how we teach and administer algebra, I believe it would be exceedingly unwise to make it optional in our schools.

Posted by: Track Runner | 12/10/2021 at 08:44 AM