Comments about ‘Do Utah high school students need four years of math?’

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Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013 4:00 p.m. MST

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South Jordan, Utah

They do not need it in life. Our college math mandates should be changed.

Michael Matthews
Omaha, NE

Of course they don't need it. They don't need ANYTHING taught in high school. People can live.... and have done for thousands of years... with very little understanding if not complete ignorance of what is taught in high school. So it's easy to argue they don't need it. The questions should be... do they need it so that they can________________. Fill in the blank, if our society could just really decide what should go in that blank we'd be able to answer that question. I think it varies too much though to require 4 years of math. But for that matter, I think it varies too much to require 4 years of anything in high school.


Utah (and the U.S. in general) students need something to help with math, science and English test scores. But, it might be nice to test a plan first, in different types of schools, to see if it really makes a difference.

Another idea would be to let High School students test out of courses with competency exams. Then, those that don't need specific courses would be able to quickly move on and students would have an incentive to get competent in a subject during the summer months.

DN Subscriber 2

Why waste the time? People can collect welfare and the government will do the math for them to tell them how much they will get. Or the cash register at the Burger Joint will tell them how much change to give out.

Besides, all the high paying engineer and scientific jobs are fleeing to other countries, where foreign secondary schools are almost all teaching their students more than what our kids learn. And, their colleges teach all the math and science they need. (But, the don't have the advantages of environmental studies, Latvian Lesbian Literature classes, or similar majors that our colleges thrive on.)

The worst part is, if our kids did get all the high level math courses, them might end up getting really high paid jobs, and contribute to "income inequality" and oppression of the lower classes, which would require them to be taxed at much higher rates to help "pay their fair share" to the less fortunate (or studious) voters.

But, if the students really do need all those math courses, they will be offered as part of the remedial classes offered by colleges to make up for the shortcomings of our failing secondary school system.

Mcallen, TX

@DN Subscriber 2:

"and the government will do the math for them"?

How can that be, when they can't balance a budget?

Farmington, UT

Of course they need more math. When a teenage employee can't figure how much sales tax should be collected on a $1.79 loaf of bread and how much change to give you back from a $5 bill when you buy the bread and include sales tax, because of a power failure and the automatic cash register isn't functional, then yes, we need more math.

Believe it or not, some jobs depend upon it. A former employer told me "Do you know how many people bother to take trig or even remember thing one about it?" He was pleased I knew it, plus I could write a detailed letter representing engineered solutions to a problem a customer was experiencing. That is real life. Factory technical experts need some education that is useful and math is right at the top.

Of course I guess you could always work in fast food and demand $15 an hour......

Good luck with that.......

Sandy, UT

Public education needs radical reform. Maybe revolution. Kids are wasting their time and hard earned taxpayer money. Some very drastic changes need to take place. Cutting out four years of high school math would be a good start. Here's a simple math equation. Four years times times one hour of lecture plus two hours of study times millions of kids who will never use high school level math in their careers = many, many wasted hours and taxdollars.


Debating what another person's child should or shouldn't be learning is an affront to human dignity and freedom. I reject the entire premise of the discussion. Public education should be abolished, and these politicians should fulfill their duty to defend liberty rather than meddle in our lives.

Salt Lake City, Utah

DN Subscriber 2 and toosmartforyou,

I am hoping with your vast of the problems with our public school system in Utah that you are on your local school board. I would hate to think that your just people who criticize the school system without doing something to make it better. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Matter of fact I have a better idea, maybe you should become teachers and improve our pathetic school system rather than simply criticize.

Riverton, UT

A few observations:

Let me fill in the blank with one possible answer: Students need to learn math so that they can ____THINK____.

High school math classes don't teach about sales tax and making change. That's taught much earlier than high school.

I have the impression that folks who think math can't be used in most careers or most lives didn't really understand math.

I have the impression that it's very important to do well in math classes, not just pass them. A student that learns math at a B or C grade level basically didn't learn it and won't be able to use it for much.

Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

I think we've got it backwards. We assume that taking 4 years of math equals a certain level of skill, which is not necessarily the case. What we should do is decide how much an ACT score of let's say 25 is worth to us, and then how much each additional point is worth and pay a fraction of that to the student who achieves it instead of investing the money into the schools. If the students feel the immediate tangible value of his high ACT score he will find a way to learn math - either by hiring the right tutor, going to the right school, or but simply finding the right kind of online resource - but let him decide. When you focus on the process, you get the process, but when you focus on the results you get the results.

Agua Dulce, TX

4 years of high school mouth = "raising the bar"

Farmington, UT


I have posted numerous times suggestions for improving education. Here are a few examples:
1- Year round school. Less buildings and installing and running air conditioning is cheaper than new buildings.
2- Make teaching a true profession. Increase teacher salaries by 25 - 33% and have teachers work 12 months of he year, with two weeks vacation like everybody else, not 3 months.
3- Get rid of teacher unions and organizations that constantly "want more money" but refuse "education reform." It's time to change the education model.

I helped my children through school as I ought to have done.
4- Expect students (and parents) to be involved with learning. If a student needs to be baby sat, then they shouldn't progress to the next grade. High school students should have a heavy curriculum with solid subjects, not "play time for those with senioritis."
5- Reward teachers and schools who improve performance; weed out those who lag behind and don't care if they truly teach and inspire learning or not.
6- Pare back extracurricular activities a bit. Don't eliminate them, but don't worship them, either.
7- Appreciate what you have and quit screaming how little Utah spends on education. Every personal income tax penny goes to education---100%.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

Do people use math in everyday life? Yes. Do students need 12 years of math? By all means Yes!!

Elmo, UT

There is a disconnect between our legislator's/USOE and the Colleges, especially Jr Colleges in Utah. The Jr Colleges in the state do not want to let High School teachers with masters degrees teach Concurrent Enrollment. If kids take and get a semesters worth of credit for a year long class in High School, then they will be at college less time and take fewer classes. This makes it so the students don't attend college as long and therefore aren't paying the college more money. The heads of departments grant the approval of Concurrent Enrollment applications. They know if granted their staffing at the college level goes down, so they just reject the Concurrent Enrollment.

The way Math is taught is not conducive to learning procedures, processes, and problem solving. (BTW this is why math is valuable). I teach a Senior class that starts with ACT Prep and then moves into subject matter taught in 1010 and 1050 classes to prepare them for success in college. Students averaged a 2.6 point gain on the math portion of ACT. Some gained 5 points. Yet, the state doesn't approve because it isn't Secondary Ed III. Call it helping students learn 101!

Taylorsville, UT

I almost agree with abolish public education where governemnt and propaganda are too powerful in the hands of politicians to allow them to control how much education a student needs to be a public dependent. This article is saying education has become too expensive and they want to cut costs and knowledge by defunding quality education.

Education has become an industrial government asset to profiteer from govnerment handouts and children are pawns to expand control. Education and training are too expensive in the business world where it eats into their profits and produces nothing.

People wanted their government run like a business so CEO's turned government into business to expand itself with stockholders and share holders accruing power as it expands. Its not about the good of the people, this is not what education is or means.

Education it to provide quality education in knowledge for children to discover the unknown with knowledge of the past in science, math, arts, and physical skills. Language skills have become too expensive and they have stopped proving children with the ability to read, write, and comprehend a language. There is no such thing as too much education, just too much corporate government.

Here, UT

More Reading, Writing and Arithmetic should be required, rather than more Football, Basketball and Hockey.

Salt Lake City, Utah


I have read many of your posts. Most are critical of teachers and always critical of teachers unions. Why not get off the sideline and run for school board and then see if your ideas will work. I think you have some good ideas, some however I think are probably not practical or legal. But again anyone can come on a message board and criticize, why not run for your local school board? Its real easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize, it is much tougher when you are the one responsible.

Layton, UT

The worst thing you could do for your kid is let them opt out of math their last couple years of High School -- IF -- you intend your kid to go to college.

They MUST be conversant with mathematics even if it's at a lower level, or they face a steep climb once they get to college. I tutored a guy who fell out of math and wanted a simple community college degree in medical equipment handling or something like that. He'd failed all his attempts to take the most remedial math class these tradeschools offered Nine TIMES! He did math at about a fourth grade level and could only hold a job at places like Burger King, as a result.

We spent about 15 extra hours a week working to pass his math class. He was ecstatic that I brought his grade up to a B, after about 5 weeks of concerted effort. Many folks don't get as lucky as him, because they simply can't spend that much time on it, and they're so lost they can't even do the basics.

High School is a free time, don't waste it.

Mcallen, TX

Farmington, UT:

Some added suggestions:

* Eliminate standardized testing. What an expense that is.
* Three schools sharing one football field.
* Students feed themselves.
* Students pay fifty cents a day to ride the bus.
* Less schooling would be better than more school. Kids need independence to develop curiousity, and creativity.
* more parent volunteers.

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