By Augustine Ugalde
Once again the big, ugly monster that calls itself the Math Department has shown its true colors and eliminated several students from moving forward with their lives. My Intermediate Algebra, Math 125 class had more than 120 aspiring students crammed into an auditorium-sized classroom hoping to either add or complete this required course at the beginning of the semester.
Eight weeks later, that number is down to approximately 25 and according to the instructor, two-thirds of those are failing. If that is true, 8.25 students from a total possible class of 120 will move on. This is deplorable. All those aspiring students have now had their academic careers placed on hold and must make adjustments.
What happens to them now? Do they stick with their general course requirement in the hopes that one day they will suddenly wake up with a new revelation that they can pass this career-stopping curriculum? Do they drop out of college and go find a minimum wage job at the local McDonald’s or Burger King? Do they spend countless hours studying at home, at the math lab or with an expensive tutor so that they can master a discipline they will never use?
If this is not an exercise in futility, I do not know what is. I guess it is fortunate that there is a McDonald’s just across the street. Those 111.75 students will not have far to go. This is not an anti-math commentary. No, this is a lack of common sense commentary.
I can clearly see the need for strict math prerequisite courses for students that aspire to become architects, engineers and mathematicians, but what about liberal arts students?
The quantitative reasoning requirement to transfer to a four-year university has been fixed for years. What the University of California and the California State systems want is for a transferring student from East Los Angeles College to complete what is designated as a 200 series course here.
This is a typical example of the bureaucratic mentality that permeates California State government. Someone, somewhere within the system has to take a look at this travesty and take the initiative to correct this injustice. Why would a liberal arts student ever need to know Cramer’s Rule or linear equations with two unknown variables?
What is happening here is that the state is eliminating part of its valuable resources because students who have no interest or use for mathematics cannot determine the volume of a conical container algebraically. This situation begs the question, is it deliberate? Is this how the state culls the herd?
Fortunately, there are a couple of math teachers at ELAC that get the fact that some students are not and will never be junior Einsteins and try to help them get through these nightmare classes so that they can move on with their lives. Unfortunately, there are not many.
The only question that’s left for the 111.75 to ask is, “Would you like fries with your meal?”