Thursday, December 12, 2019
US flag

Mich. moves to minimize high school math

In every state, the adoption of learning standards or objectives is in the hands of the state’s education board. But on occasion, notably when specific courses deal with matters of student health and well-being, state legislatures step in and tell the schools what courses to teach. In other words, government meddles in the actual curriculum, on top of the standards themselves.

Now under consideration in the Michigan General Assembly is Senate Bill 496, introduced by Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, which would make Algebra II a non-requirement for high school graduation. If the bill becomes law, students will still have to take four years of math-related courses, but after Algebra I and Geometry, they could elect to take two math courses which don’t include Algebra II.

“Math literacy matters, and we need to be setting young people up with math skills that align with their professional goals,” M-Live quoted Mr Ananich as saying. “Students are being charged with learning polynomials, logarithms, and the quadratic equation, but are leaving high school without a solid understanding of how to balance a checkbook, make investments, or calculate basic statistics.”

Some choices might be a course in financial literacy or business math. A few other possibilities for meeting the requirement are found in the bill itself:

… trigonometry, statistics, precalculus, calculus, applied math, accounting, business math, a retake of algebra II, or a course in financial literacy.

I’m on the record as supporting an education in algebra, through Algebra II, for all high school students: working with polynomial division may be a skill students will never use again, but learning the techniques for doing it sharpens their logical thinking skills. And for the record, balancing a checkbook is also a skill students who graduate today are not likely to use again either. In response to Mr Ananich’s argument, I would add that the calculation of basic statistics for a dataset is also a skill most students aren’t likely to use again while being literate in the use of basic statistics is an important skill in today’s information-rich society.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.

A band teacher is IL Teacher of the Year

IL named a band teacher the 2020 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 19. He individualizes music instruction and shares his work with 1000s.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ bookends Halloween

Several high schools have decided to add a little spook to their musical stages in this season of Halloween. Music makes it happen.

New IL law ensures inclusion of LGBTQ+

A law will take effect next school year in IL that will require students to study LGBTQ history as part of the social studies curriculum.

MoCo doubles down on summer learning loss

Research is at least equivocal about summer learning loss, but maybe there's something to a new plan in Montgomery County, Md.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.