Kansas universities may soon dispense with their algebra graduation requirement because too many students fail the courses.
NPR Kansas recently reported: “About one in three Kansas students fails college algebra the first time around. Some take it several times before they pass. Others get so frustrated that they drop out altogether. And that cuts into university graduation rates.” NPR added that this prompted the Kansas Board of Regents to consider alternative requirements under what’s called a “Math Pathways program.”
Regent Wint Winter (!) said the new Pathways program is critical as a way to fight declining enrollment.
He stated: “It’s incumbent on us to be aware of all the roadblocks that are out there for students … reasons why they’re leaving, reasons why they’re not graduating. So I would urge us all to … find ways to find the bandwidth to keep this moving along.”
If graduation rates are now more important than what students are taught, than why not only offer gender and women’s studies courses…and underwater basket-weaving? Is algebra—algebra!— really too hard for today’s young scholars to handle? In my day, many of us took advanced placement calculus…in high school no less…with credits often transferring to the college of our choice. If calculus, geometry, and even algebra are too difficult for those enrolled in bastions of “higher education” today, perhaps the schools can offer Remedial Addition and Subtraction in their Math pathways programs, assuming they can find “the bandwidth.” What do you think about that, Regent Wint Winter? (Not to be confused with Regent Summ Summer.)
Higher education’s emphasis on enrollment over substance and mission is sadly of a piece with Christian churches’ abandonment of traditional doctrine in favor of a policy of “we must do whatever the hell it takes to put more butts in the pews, no matter how spectacularly amoral and secular.” Hence, we have drag queens flouncing around in our churches and teaching Sunday school. Helps attendance, you see.
What comprises current college curriculum? The classics? Right out. Western Civilization/Canon? Hah, racist/sexist/transphobic! Chemistry? Too hard. Rhetoric? Why? Debate? Triggering! Engineering? A field of endeavor by and for white supremacists! English Literature? I mean, hello, “E-lit” fairly reeks of yesterday’s dead white male patriarchy. Business instruction? Only if all classes are as anti-capitalist as they are anti-racist. An examination of post-modern, intersectional, non-binary, polyamorous, BIPOC poetry, as seen through a lesbian lens? Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Good to go! That’s why you spend $50,000 a year to send your kids to college! Is it not?
So what if your kid doesn’t know a constant from a variable? Does anyone really care if their children can understand algebraic expressions, as long as they can express their lived gender?!