Access, Equity, Success: STEM Education, Civil Rights, and Education
At a cocktail party a couple of years ago, a woman confided that she came to the States to further her education, but at her Algebra class she was unable to focus because so many questions led to contradictory answers. Her mother explained that education has become more important, but that teachers are not equipped to teach algebra. This phenomenon is quite common.
While it is important to teach critical thinking and understand the demands of a global market, it is also important to resist forces that want to impose only standardized math requirements on our students.
In a recent survey by State University of New York at Albany, more than four in ten primary and secondary school students in our state lack the skills to apply for certain jobs. In a past State University of New York study, 75 percent of students in 10th and 11th grade did not understand algebra. Forty-six percent of high school seniors in the state did not understand algebra in ninth grade. Even those who have taken Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 do not understand the concepts in those classes. Only 45 percent of 11th graders in New York learned all the knowledge and skills required for the various jobs that await high school graduates today.
Approximately 66 percent of the general population between the ages of 18-24 does not have at least a two-year degree. Those who do have a Bachelors or a Bachelor’s degree are overwhelmed with credit card debt, student loan debt, and their high school graduates move to a job that doesn’t require a degree, or they enter the workforce in a job where they are paying more than $70,000 a year in order to put children through college and do household chores.