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To hear some teachers and commentators tell it, the American future depends on how and when we teach math. Industries, universities, and even elected officials say the country must devote more resources and teachers to the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—to ensure our economic competitiveness. Some educators are arguing that unless all students take algebra by ninth grade, they’ll risk failing to develop the math skills needed for higher education and many trades. However, some researchers see a corporate agenda for education that is forcing math—and failure—on too many students who aren’t ready for it; the result may be a higher dropout rate. Is math really that important? And does anyone know how to teach it? Washington Post education columnist and The War Against Dummy Math author Jay Mathews, Southern California middle school math teacher Sarah Armstrong, and Growth Sector workforce expert Caz Pereira visit Zócalo to ask whether higher math is essential to the national future, or whether requiring such math is diminishing the futures of too many Americans.
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