I sent the following as a "Letter To The Editor" of the Arizona Republic on 13 December 2006 in response to a front-page story titled: "High-schoolers in Arizona may face added math."I support requiring high school students to learn more math in order to graduate. I also agree with Dr. Shelton's assessment that "more math" does not necessarily imply "advance math." "More math" might simply mean high school students spend year three of their math studies mastering the math they have learned over the previous years. There is zero doubt that human-beings in the 21st century need to learn more math and science, but we also need to learn more about computing. A major reason why math and science are becoming increasingly exciting is because we are entering into the next era of computing. High-performance computing systems are going to play a critical role in enabling 21st century computational computing and informatics. We must learn about computer programming because that will enable us to apply our math and science knowledge. I cannot speak about Arizona universities, but I do know that the Maricopa Community Colleges have virtually zero students learning about computing. Granted, most community college students are required to take a three hour course on computer literacy, but that course is nothing more than learning how to use some proprietary software applications. Students need to learn how to write programs because that is when they can fully exploit the power of computing. The Arizona Republic's article about the outputs coming from Napolitano's P-20 Council said nothing about computing, yet in the 21st century, reading, writing and arithmetic must include computing.
The Arizona Republic printed my later the next day (14 December 2006); however, they took the liberty to add a word to something I wrote that completely changed the meaning of what I wrote. This edit on the Republic's part prompted me to send the following follow-up letter.Thank You for publishing my "Letter to the Editor" concerning high school students needing more math; however, I must comment about a significant edit you made to what I wrote. My letter was published on 14 December 2006. I wrote that the extra year of math might be used to allow students to "master the math they have learned" over the years. You inserted the word "should" into my sentence making it read "master the math they should have learned." The word "should" implies the extra year is remedial math and that is not the case. When I see P-20 and think beyond 12, years 13-16 are undergraduate school and years 14-15 are masters-level graduate school. Grades 14-15 are not remedial--they are used to master the subject material learned in years 13-16. Applying this logic to grades P-12, some students will use their extra year of high school math to master the math they HAVE learned.
Bottom-line: I should have kept my mouth shut when it comes to educational issues.
Creator: Gerald D. Thurman
Created: 16 December 2006