BY SHARON MARTIN
How important is it that you understand numbers? Can you be sure that your paycheck is correct? Has a mortgage lender or credit card company misled you? Can you administer the proper dosage of medicine to your child?
Now, how important is it that you understand calculus?
The people who decide what students need to know [Hint: the deciders aren’t teachers] have confused the need for math understanding with that for advanced math. Engineers and contractors need calculus; we all need to understand numbers.
The legislators who cry about the state of education in this country are the ones cutting funding to education programs. They are also the ones who say we have to cut the deficit and think we can do this by cutting taxes.
You cannot balance the budget by reducing the amount of money coming in. That’s basic math. It appears that some of our legislators should have taken a course in business math instead of calculus.
You also need basic math to understand public opinion. But polls are more than just numbers. They require pollsters to ask unbiased questions and for poll readers to compare all the answers.
A recent poll from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Kaiser Foundation asked 1,500 people, “What would you like Congress to do with the health care law?”
Only one person in five wanted the law repealed without replacing it. Almost a quarter, 23%, wanted the law repealed and replaced with another health care law.
Opponents of the law [Hint: politicians beholden to insurance companies] will tell you that only 19% of the people polled want to keep the law as it is. That’s true, but 28% not only wanted to keep the law but expand it. This means that 47% of those asked do not want the law repealed. And of those who want it repealed, almost a quarter want the law replaced with another reform bill.
The true story of these numbers is that 70% of those responding want some sort of health care reform.
Is this what your legislator is telling you? Is this the same legislator who is telling you that our schools are broken because we lag in advanced math scores? Does he also tell you that we test all our students while many other countries only test their elites?
Education is a lifelong endeavor that aims to increase understanding. It is not one right answer, one right political party, one right curriculum. It may or may not include calculus, but if we want our citizens to have the good life, it had better teach students to think about numbers.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer