Why San Francisco stopped teaching algebra in middle school
San Francisco in the twenty-first century is the town that STEM built.
A city increasingly synonymous with startup culture and tech-centric innovation, its rapidly growing economy speaks to the value of studying science and mathematics.
Which is why it came as a surprise when the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)-the central office of which occupies the same rarified square mile as the corporate HQs of Twitter, Uber, and Square-announced in 2014 that it would no longer offer Algebra I to eighth graders.
Instead, under the district's new mathematical course sequence, students would not be introduced to the joys of polynomials until high school.
Scale back math education in San Francisco? Why not cut Bible study at the Vatican while we're at it?
Such was the tenor of the response from irate parents who took to local radio and social mediato voice their disapproval. Under the city's previous standards, precociously numerate middle schoolers had been allowed to skip ahead to Algebra or Geometry.
While SFUSD insists that its new approach does not compromise the rigor of its education, but ensures that all students enter high school with the same mathematical foundation, many parents see the district's new standards as a dumbing down of the curriculum. As one angry commenter asked on an online petition website: " All the talk about American kids being behind in math and science, and now SFUSD makes a move to keep the most advanced math students from making progress?"
The battle over eighth grade algebra playing out in San Francisco is neither isolated nor new. Education experts have long considered Algebra a "gatekeeper" course that divides the more advanced mathematics of the college-bound set from the no-frills, computational arithmetic of general math.
The question of whether students should be ushered through that gate in the eighth or the ninth grade may seem like a small one, but it touches on a fundamental question in education policy: should schools push over-achievers ahead if that means leaving some students behind?
Algebra: "The New Civil Right"
It is telling that one of the first people to push for universal enrollment in algebra was a Why San Francisco stopped teaching algebra in middle school - Business Insider: