IN THE MAIL: Algebra + graduation requirement = 2 many dropouts

Mabra Holeyfield

By Mabra Holeyfield, Special to the New Tri-State Defender

I realize that nobody really wants to talk about algebra but stay with me a couple minutes because this is important.

The requirement that all students pass algebra in order to graduate from high school is causing many students to drop out who could have been successful in any number of professions. Many students don’t graduate from college for the same reason.

Passing algebra was not a requirement when I was in high school but because I was good in math, my teacher suggested I take algebra. Somehow, I passed but I never understood the need for it. Over the years, I asked people I knew in various professions (accounting, medicine, business, etc.) if they ever used algebra in their work. I have yet to find anyone who had.

So when I heard that Professor Andrew Hacker had written a book titled, “The Math Myth,” it got my attention.

The “Math Myth” expands Hacker’s scrutiny of many held assumptions, like notions that mathematics broadens our minds, that mastery of azimuths and asymptotes (get your dictionary – I did) will be needed for most jobs, and that the entire common core syllabus should be required by every student. Our one-size-fits-all education system is doing more harm than good.

I agree that basic math should be required. We need it to be financially literate and to be able to function in today’s society. But our kids have enough obstacles to overcome – algebra should not be one of them.

(Mabra Holeyfield is a Memphis businessman and the author of “Use What You Got.” Email: