Do the Math. Re: "It Doesn't Add Up"

New York Newsday
February 1, 2003

Do the Math

Regarding the article "It Doesn't Add Up," [Viewpoints, Jan. 28]: Donald Murphy, an assistant high school principal, says that Regents math is too hard for many students. This aim-low attitude is one of the chronic problems facing our schools. To score a passing grade of 65 on the Regents A exam, a student has to know no trigonometry and just a smidgen of algebra. Fortunately, the Regents have a higher opinion of our kids' abilities than the assistant principal apparently does.

Even scarier is what Murphy thinks we should teach our less mathematically inclined students: not telling time (too hard), but yes to car loans and credit-card payments.

Now more than ever, kids need to learn in school. Otherwise, computers, robots, machines and cheap overseas labor will leave them jobless, with no car loans or credit cards.

Study after study has shown that the most powerful factor influencing kids' performance in school is their teachers' expectations of them. Please, don't let them down.

Jonathan Goodman

Editor's Note: The writer is a professor of mathematics at Courant Institute at New York University. Manhattan

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