By CLINT FOSTER
Despite being the first in a long line of states to mandate that high school students take algebra II, the State of Texas is now changing its policy.
For better or worse, Texan students will no longer be required to take the elevated math course; a decision that has generated mixed opinions across the Lone Star State.
But Mineral Wells Superintendent Dr. Gail Haterius said Mineral Wells ISD minus algebra II equals success.
“I feel that the move by the State Board of Education to not have everyone take algebra II acts to preserve the rigor of algebra II for students who are planning on higher academics, engineering, or a STEM field,” she said. “At Mineral Wells ISD, we will continue to offer algebra II and any student who desires to be in the course will be able to sign up and take it.
“Teachers and counselors will counsel students who are on a college preparatory track to take algebra II.”
Haterius is not alone in her support of the legislature’s recent move.
According to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, many school districts are praising the decision saying fewer course mandates allow for flexibility and give students more time to focus on vocational training.
This concept is something that Haterius has supported for almost a decade.
“In 2006, I served on a panel of school superintendents at the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce Luncheon,” she said. “We were asked about the recent legislative requirement that all students must pass Algebra II to obtain a high school diplomas in the State of Texas. At the time, there was great concern about American students not being competitive in the global economy and a push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science) fields.
“I was the superintendent of a small Region 10 school district at the time and knew what that new mandate would mean for my district. I responded that I thought it was a knee-jerk reaction and, even though well-intended, not well thought out.
“In small schools where there is usually only one upper-level math teacher, the algebra II course would most likely be watered down in order to get everyone through it.
“Then the future engineers or math teachers would not be getting the rigorous algebra course that they deserved. We would be trying to take care of one group of students while hurting the education of another.
“Of course, in the field of education and in all businesses there are no perfect balances no matter how hard we try.”
Haterius said several industrial organizations in Texas, and specifically Mineral Wells, also support this move, so that kids who are not college-bound can be better prepared to enter the workforce.
Texas will join Florida as two of that nation’s most populous states to drop the policy.