The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

High schools should not require algebra.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,823 times Debate No: 34475
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Before I begin this debate, I would like to state that each of the three rounds will be for presenting a new argument. One argument per round. You may also refute the other's arguments. Now to begin,

1) Algebra is the primary cause of the huge high school drop out rate in America.
-One in four ninth graders drop out of High School, which is 7,000 kids per day. Many Educators such as Andrew Hacker, a professor of education at Queens College, cite algebra cite Algebra as the cause of this.
-A national sample of transcripts finds 2 times as many Ds and Fs in algebra compared to other High School subjects.
-Edward Silver for the Alliance for Excellent Education finds that 40-50% of High Schoolers fail Algebra.
-Shirley Bagwell, a longtime Tennessee teacher warns that to expect all students to master algebra will cause more students to drop out.


Rebuttal: of 1)
The purpose of education is to impart knowledge into people not for them to pass a test while learning very little. Algebra is a very important topic to master; (see argument 1 later) we do our children a disservice by not giving them access to this education and make life harder for them.

The high failure rate is proof not that algebra shouldn"t be taught but simply that the course is challenging " I think challenging children at school is a good thing. A high failure % may also be down to poor teaching. I feel that it would be better to re-evaluate teacher training or the structure of the course/examinations. Perhaps we could improve pass rates while actually teaching children something?

Failing a high school algebra course is not the end of the world " numerous professions do not require a certificate or qualifications to join. So even if people fail algebra which my opponent has shown life isn"t going to pan out terribly " in fact it might be helpful to get them out on their bike instead of in an education system that will never benefit them and that is likely to fail them when they get to a real challenge like college or university.

Now on to my substantive argument.
Argument 1: Algebra is an important skill to master, as doing so hugely benefits you and society.
Algebra classes teach transferable skills such as logical thinking and problem solving.
But algebra is useful in and of itself countless jobs from construction workers and carpenters to scientists and engineers.

Algebra is the cornerstone of science and further mathematical studies. As algebra is very difficult it needs to be taught and mastered so that students can progress, without algebra we cannot do calculus, graph functions or understand imaginary numbers.
These skills are required by scientists and engineers, it"s important to develop these skills for the benefit of society. After all the electricity, cars, computers, internet " just about everything will have required a scientist or engineer at some point doing algebra.
Debate Round No. 1


Rebuttal- First off, I would like to point out that my opponent has contradicted himself in his own first argument. In the beginning, he says that algebra is essential for good education and will be needed a lot later in life. But then, in a refutation against my point, he says that not very many jobs need algebra, so the failure rate is okay. Then, during his point, he goes back to making the argument that algebra is needed in real life. Obviously, my opponent needs to figure his arguments out.
I would also like to point out that my opponent has not used a single scrap of evidence in his argument. His points are completely moral based, without any data, or even a quote to back them up.

To refute his point, I will state what he has already said. Algebra is not that essential in later life. This wil come up again later in the debate, but some of the only jobs that require algebra are jobs that are in the engineering, math, or computer science field. Many of the other jobs don't need an algebra basis. Now on to my own point.

2) Algebra prevents millions of students from getting their high school diploma, achieving their career goals, or getting any job.
-All people that see this debate, Imagine yourself as a high school senior with good grades. You're excited to go off to college or to start a job that requires a high school diploma. But then your report card arrives with a failing grade in algebra. Imagine not graduating because you failed one course-Algebra. All your career dreams dashed, and few prospects for your job, because you couldn't pass algebra. This is how 6 million high school students feel every year.
-The Wall Street Journal said on October 2012, "You've heard about the high unemployment rate-something like 8%? Well consider the unemployment rate of of high school dropouts - which is more than 50%
- If 6 million high school students are experiencing this trauma each year, why throw the baby out with the bath water and put these kids on the street with little hope for a future career or any job, simply because they didn't pass algebra?
-John Willis, a professor at the University of Columbia says, "It doesn't serve a student to withhold her diploma for failing an algebra class if she would otherwise receive one.

Please vote for this measure and make algebra not required in high schools. It is for the benefit of many more high school students to do so. Also, the kids who want to get a job in engineering, math, or computer science can still do so, because we wouldn't be taking algebra out entirely, just making it not required. Please vote to make high schools not require algebra, for the benefit of everyone.

Thank you!


Militant_Pacifist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Since my opponent has forfeited the last round, it is not necessary for me to refute his arguments again, so I will get straight to my third point.

3) Algebra is not needed in real life, and students can learn everything they need to know to prepare for life in their other math courses or the rest of their school curriculum.
-My opponent makes many claims about the many wonderful real life uses for high school algebra, but these are not supported by any research or evidence, but based on wishful thinking.
-John Willis, as cited in my second round argument, states: "A common question in any high school algebra class is, 'when are we going to use this.' Most teachers cannot provide an answer because there is none."
-Very few professions actually use algebra. It is required only for certain jobs. A definitive analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce finds that a mere 5% of entry-level workers need to be proficient in Algebra or above.
-Many educators have found that some math classes are more useful than algebra, and should replace it. For example, Mathematical Statistics class is much more useful because people use statistics all the time in their daily life. I don't think that finding things like the slope of a line on a graph is going to be useful in life.


Militant_Pacifist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by brynlawson 5 years ago
Aww! Somebody ELSE is debating this one already!!! Too bad...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by CriticalThinkingMachine 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were that requiring alebrara is a casue of drops outs and that it is not necessary for most jobs. Con's only rebuttal was to assert that algebra is important. But this ignores Pro's observation that most professions do not use algebra. It is only necessary for a minority of jobs. Con then forfeited the debate. Good job, Inverlees!