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Letters to the Editor: CSU’s quantitative reasoning proposal is not as scary as it’s made out to be

Students walk on the Cal State Long Beach campus.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Math is just one of many subjects that will fulfill the California State University system’s proposed quantitative reasoning requirement. In order to meet minimum qualifications for admission to CSU starting in the fall of 2027, high school students will enhance their preparation for college by completing one additional course of quantitative reasoning.

In Sandy Banks’ recent column expressing skepticism of the proposal, math teacher Brian Shay provided a great summary of quantitative reasoning: “It doesn’t have to be calculus or trigonometry. It could be a class that teaches life skills, like financial math, or follows a scientific passion.” This is exactly our proposal — the additional preparation could be fulfilled by any of those examples, or by courses in computer coding, sports medicine or statistics.

Banks writes that CSU’s goal is to “better prepare students to tackle college courses that can lead to high-demand careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” She’s half right. The goal is to better prepare students for success in college and in their professional lives, no matter what career path they choose. Enabling more students to pursue careers in the STEM fields is a welcome benefit of the policy.

Banks has enjoyed a successful career in media, even though, as she notes, she completed “only three years of high school math.” We applaud her abilities and good fortune. Unfortunately, the data say that outcomes for nearly 1,000 incoming CSU students every year will not be as positive. Of the first-year students who come to the CSU with only three years of preparation in quantitative reasoning, one in four do not return for a second year.

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CSU is laser-focused on eliminating equity gaps, and helping students arrive better prepared for college is one way to get there.

Timothy P. White, Long Beach

The writer is the CSU chancellor.

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To the editor: For many students, gaining proficiency in the basic four functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division should be the goal of K-12 education. Too many students are forced to take algebra and geometry before the basic four functions are mastered.

Adding courses on important life skills such as budgeting, interest on credit cards and how it is compounded and balancing a checkbook would serve them much better than having them take calculus or trigonometry. Probability and statistics would also be advantageous.

Teachers also have to understand that students learn differently. Some learn visually, some orally, and others kinesthetically.

High schools, please do not add math classes that only frustrate students who will never need those skills and may prohibit them from going to college and having a successful career.

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Laurie Kelson, Encino


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