Algebra as a civil rights issue doesn’t add up

A social justice clown, masquerading himself as a college administrator, has once again attempted to characterize common sense as a violation of civil rights.

In this case, the chancellor of California’s community colleges believes that the requirement for college students to take algebra should be abolished.

Because it’s hard.

The chancellor of California’s community college system said he wants to abolish the college algebra requirement and called it a “civil rights issue” in a Wednesday interview.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges, made the argument while speaking with NPR. (But of course. ed.) He pegged algebra as overly burdensome due to the disproportionate rate at which it prevents students from graduating from community colleges; nearly 50 percent of community college students do not complete their math requirement.

“This is a civil rights issue, but this is also something that plagues all Americans — particularly low-income Americans,” said Oakley. “If you think about all the underemployed or unemployed Americans in this country who cannot connect to a job in this economy — which is unforgiving of those students who don’t have a credential — the biggest barrier for them is this algebra requirement. It’s what has kept them from achieving a credential.”

The chancellor said that other higher education institutions, such as the Carnegie Foundation and the University of Texas, were pondering the change. He suggested that statistics could replace algebra as a new requirement.

However, Oakley’s characterization about Carnegie’s position isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, it has developed tools to help community college students take, and pass, required math classes because public high schools have failed them.

Traditionally, only 5% of the 13 million community college students enrolled in developmental mathematics courses earn college level credit within one year. This high rate of failure cannot simply be attributed to a single source, such as poor curriculum materials or disengaged students, but the entire system. After analyzing the entire system that produces the traditional results and recognizing the key drivers of failure, the [network of educators established by Carnegie] created a system to address the problems across the system.

It ought to shock public high school principals that they are sending such outrageously unprepared students to community colleges. After all, those students are receiving a diploma with their school’s name on it!

However, rather than working with high schools (and their feeder schools) to help them prepare their students for what they ought to expect at community colleges, Oakley is prancing around as if the students’ lack of success is indicative of the injustices of the system! (Raise fist.)Oakley is no more an educator than I am a swimsuit model. (Trust me.) The Board of Governors of California Community Colleges ought to be embarrassed that Mr. Oakley is the chancellor.