Letters to the Editor: Why CSU’s proposal for a fourth year of math won’t fix anything

Cal State
Students celebrate their graduation from Cal State Long Beach at a commencement ceremony.
(Los Angeles times)

To the editor: As a a secondary math teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 16 years, I am certain that requiring a fourth year of high school math to enter Cal State won’t increase CSU’s graduation rates.

I also fear that aligning high school graduation requirements to this proposed requirement may reduce high school graduation rates. Typically, third-year high-school math is Algebra 2. Before LAUSD aligned its graduation requirements with the entrance requirements of the University of California and Cal State systems, my Algebra 2 students worked hard and were motivated to succeed.

However, after the graduation requirements changed, my Algebra 2 classes contained many far-less-motivated students who had much difficulty with the material. In fact, students who had difficulty in any high-school math class were academically underprepared.

I believe there are two primary reasons for the persistent under-preparedness in math: the effects of poverty on families, and the fact that the developmental level of the Common Core curriculum’s early-grade math standards is beyond most youngsters’ cognitive capabilities. These problems cannot be solved by adding new requirements in the 12th grade.


Ronel Kelmen Wright, El Segundo


To the editor: Your opinion that it’s too onerous and even pointless to require more math classes for admission into Cal State is wrong.

We Californians gladly support higher education as a great investment for our society. But the need for remedial math courses at CSU to cover material that high school graduates are supposed to know has persisted too long, requiring the expenditure of resources that could be put to better use.


Rather than turn a CSU degree into the equivalent of a youth sport participation trophy, let’s increase its value and in the end obtain more utility for the tax dollar. Nobody says that high school graduates who did not take a fourth year of math are unworthy of society’s support, only that they are not yet ready for CSU and there are remedies like the community college system.

A CSU degree tells us the holder has not only acquired a body of knowledge but has also demonstrated the effort and tenacity required to envision and complete the task. Let the CSU folks decide what to expect of the students.

Al Stroberg, Ojai