Friday, July 21, 2017

Boss of Californian community colleges wants to ban algebra

Several years ago, Penny asked Sheldon whether Leonard would get bored with her.

She lied to him that she was a community college graduate – in order not to be considered a stupid loser. Sheldon was surprised that she apparently thought that the opposite of a "stupid loser" was a "community college graduate". Well, Sheldon had very good reasons to be surprised. And the NPR gave us an additional reason two days ago (thanks to Willie):
Say Goodbye To X+Y: Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra?
Kayla Lattimore talked to Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the chancellor of California's college community system.

So we heard the usual story. Too many students of community colleges – 80% – fail to complete an algebra requirement. So something must obviously be wrong with algebra, not with the students. The chancellor wouldn't even dare to suggest that the students could be stupid losers. So he builds a big theory implying that algebra isn't really needed. Other organs are as capable of rigorous thinking as brains. That includes aßes and especially vag*nas, we are told.

F*rting and especially q*eefing are distinguished and respectable activities that often trump the algebraic manipulations and they are often more useful for the alumni than algebra. That's the type of wisdom that similar apparatchiks in California can get away with.

There was also one amusing technical point. Mr Oakley suggested that he didn't quite want to eliminate mathematics from the community colleges. Sometimes, it could be replaced with statistics which may be equally rigorous. That's funny because I agree. A statistics course may be equally quantitative and rigorous as an algebra course. A problem is that when it's so, it's also an equally effective source of problems for the less quantitative students. As I described in March, I was recently exposed to complaints by female students who wanted a college degree to become nurses (the college requirement should be canceled for this job soon) and they didn't like too difficult a take-home exam or homework in their statistics course.

The students' problem obviously isn't linked to one particular branch of mathematics (or sciences) or another. Their problem is with the quantitative, careful, rigorous, disciplined thinking in general. If you ask the students to parrot outrageous stupidities such as the statement that the United Nations has outlined 17 sustainability goals up to the year 2030, the students who shouldn't be there will find it easy to get through the course because such courses have been designed for stupid losers. If you ask the students to do something that actually requires intellectual skills that are above the average and that should be required at higher levels of education, the stupid losers will fail and complain. It's that simple!

Sorry but the real problem isn't algebra but the propagation of stupid losers, including Mr Oakley, in the scholarly environment where they have no moral right to oxidize. The real problem is the inflation of degrees, dropping quality of college education, and the increasing self-confidence and the sense of entitlement among the stupid losers. These stupid losers have mostly succeeded in spreading the pernicious idea that they have the "right" to get college degrees for free. They should be q*eefed out. What we see is an ongoing battle between stupid losers and mathematics. You might think that you don't care except that the quality of our civilization and its progress depends on things such as mathematics, not on stupid losers, which is why you shouldn't support the stupid losers. Even if you're a stupid loser yourself, you should support mathematics in this war because in the long run, you will benefit from its victory.

NPR shows that identity politics has become a player in this battle, too. The rate of failure in algebra is obviously higher among blacks. So lots of the people who want affirmative action and a higher percentage of blacks among the alumni end up fighting algebra for this reason, too. The interviewer Ms Kayla Lattimore – who is black – mentioned Bob Moses and his Algebra Project which wanted to make blacks algebraically literate as if it were a basic human right. Well, decades later, it's finally overwhelmingly clear that most people don't really want to learn algebra. They would only like to have the fruits that have often come from the knowledge of algebra. And with stupid losers such as Mr Oakley in charge, algebra may be separated from its fruits, indeed. However, if you cut the branches of a tree that connect the roots with the fruits, the fruits will cease to ripen. The tree dies and the orchard may suffer.

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