I’ve joked a few times that this nation’s policies on education don’t add up. But it turns out it’s the kids who can’t add – or do algebra – reports the Los Angeles Times in Part II of a series on the dropout epidemic.
Algebra is the primary reason most kids drop out of the Los Angeles Unified school system, the Times reports. Nearly 44 percent of 48,000 ninth-graders flunked this required math course in 2004, which is twice the rate of those who fail English.
What’s really upsetting about this story is how the district knows its students are having a problem, but keep sending them back to the same teachers over and over. The photos reveal that these kids were out of the picture long ago.
While a few schools have tried alternative methods to help kids learn algebra, most fear doing so because it might invite district audits and penalties, reports the Times. And standards are scheduled to be tightened soon.
Equally scarier is how some experts think the algebra requirement should simply be waived. The argument: not all careers need strong math skills. That’s just baloney. Do other first world nations allow nearly half of the students to skip algebra?
Let’s face it, America is failing these kids. We can blame parents if we want to, but something more is going on here; something deeper than just bad parenting. These kids are at least showing up for school and going to classes – until they ultimately give up – but for some reason they are not learning the material.
Is it bad teaching? Maybe it’s class overcrowding? Or was it because they were never taught basic skills in elementary school and junior high? Is it too much TV? Too much junk food? Or is it cultural rot in which the value of education simply has been lost on this generation? Maybe it’s all of the above?
What do you think?