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Requiring Algebra II in high school gains momentum nationwide
Washington Post ^ | April 3, 2011 | Peter Whoriskey

Posted on 04/05/2011 5:39:25 AM PDT by reaganaut1

With its intricate mysteries of quadratics, logarithms and imaginary numbers, Algebra II often provokes a lament from high-schoolers.

What exactly does this have to do with real life?

The answer: maybe more than anyone could have guessed.

Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.

In recent years, 20 states and the District have moved to raise graduation requirements to include Algebra II, and its complexities are being demanded of more and more students.

The effort has been led by Achieve, a group organized by governors and business leaders and funded by corporations and their foundations, to improve the skills of the workforce. Although U.S. economic strength has been attributed in part to high levels of education, the workforce is lagging in the percentage of younger workers with college degrees, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

But exactly how to raise the education levels of the U.S. workforce is a matter of debate. And whether learning Algebra II causes students to fare better in life, or whether it is merely correlated with them doing better — because smart, motivated kids take Algebra II — isn’t clear. Meanwhile, some worry that Algebra II requirements are leading some young people to quit school.

The District this year joins other states requiring high school graduates to meet the Achieve standards that include Algebra II; Maryland and Virginia do not.

But no state has pushed Algebra II more than Arkansas, which began requiring the class last year for most graduates

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: algebra; algebra2; highschool; publicschools
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Steve Sailer has a good blog item on this article.

A large fraction of the population does not have the capacity for abstract thinking to do Algebra II, and I don't want to stamp them all as "high school drop-outs", at least not until a meaningful junior high school diploma is created, certifying that someone can read and do arithmetic through fractions.

1 posted on 04/05/2011 5:39:27 AM PDT by reaganaut1
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To: reaganaut1

Someone needs to look up ‘substitute variable’.Algebra II doesn’t cause people to do better at all these diverse activities, instead people who can do well in Algebra and have the motivation to try are the people who will do well at other things.


2 posted on 04/05/2011 5:44:16 AM PDT by conejo99
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To: reaganaut1

LOL! I barely passed Algebra I.

Sadly, Math was the only subject that kept me off the honor roll in High School.


3 posted on 04/05/2011 5:45:31 AM PDT by alice_in_bubbaland (DeMint/Ryan 2012!!!!!)
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To: conejo99

I’d be happy if schools required students to be able to write a paragraph with correct spelling and punctuation.


4 posted on 04/05/2011 5:46:36 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: ilovesarah2012
"I’d be happy if schools required students to be able to write a paragraph with correct spelling and punctuation."

In English I presume.

5 posted on 04/05/2011 5:50:24 AM PDT by wmileo
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To: reaganaut1
A large fraction of the population does not have the capacity for abstract thinking to do Algebra II

High school honor roll and college Dean's list here, and I struggled through high school Algebra. In the end I had to drop Trig - too many cricket sounds going on in my head.

Interestingly I loved Geometry. For some reason I found it very "concrete." My degree is in English...connection?

6 posted on 04/05/2011 5:53:32 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: reaganaut1; wintertime

Hmmm, my kids had Algebra 2 wired by third grade (age 10).

Amazing what you can do with Saxon Math (using the old, hardcover books though)...if you’re willing to make the kid SIT DOWN and actually do problems (all problems) without a calculator.

And I’m not the only one around here with those results.


7 posted on 04/05/2011 5:53:46 AM PDT by BobL (PLEASE READ: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2657811/posts))
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To: wmileo

Should be in elementary school! Have you seen students’ (including college) writing skills?


8 posted on 04/05/2011 5:54:25 AM PDT by ilovesarah2012
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To: reaganaut1
A large fraction of the population does not have the capacity for abstract thinking to do Algebra II,

Yes, they're called liberals.

Algebra II is not hard. I went to a private high school, and until reading this argument I thought public schoolers were required to take Algebra II just like I was.

9 posted on 04/05/2011 5:54:28 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: conejo99

I think you’re correct. Correlation does not imply causation, and in this case there is a correlation between work ethic and how one does in more advanced classes like Algebra II. That same work ethic also propels a person to go to college, or otherwise make something of themselves.


10 posted on 04/05/2011 5:55:59 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: reaganaut1
Efforts to improve the Education of all public school students in this country (especially in the disciplines of higher mathematics and science)will get nowhere until the Teacher's Unions are out of the picture.
11 posted on 04/05/2011 5:56:49 AM PDT by wmileo
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To: Thane_Banquo
I disagree. It's not that they necessarily ARE liberals, but they may very well have been TAUGHT BY liberals.

See, I can make logical connections. ;-)

12 posted on 04/05/2011 5:57:21 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: reaganaut1

Our local public school requires Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and one other Math course that meets either Math Models with Application (prior to enrollment in Algebra II) or any Math course with Algebra II as a prerequisite.


13 posted on 04/05/2011 5:58:08 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer (biblein90days.org))
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To: truthkeeper
I'm a mathematician, and I have found that--both for me and my mathematician friends--we generally liked Algebra, Algebra II, Pre-Calc, etc. in high school, and hated geometry. Conversely, those who are not mathematically inclined often prefer geometry. I think a lot of it has to do with the visualization.

In addition, high school geometry is taught in a similar way to upper level undergraduate and graduate level math: It is based on proofs. Proofs make things feel more concrete, and they can actually be easy to follow. But high school Algebra is not usually taught with proofs, so the students are left wondering where all these concepts came from.

All math is, in some form or another, directly related to geometry, especially statistical theory.

14 posted on 04/05/2011 6:00:22 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: reaganaut1
A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form
15 posted on 04/05/2011 6:00:30 AM PDT by kosciusko51
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To: truthkeeper
It's not that they necessarily ARE liberals, but they may very well have been TAUGHT BY liberals.

Haha! Kind of like, "If the hypotenuse is length 5, and one of the sides is length 1, then how is your black friend Billy being oppressed by evil, white Christian American society?"

16 posted on 04/05/2011 6:02:17 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Mitt Romney: He's from Harvard, and he's here to help.)
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To: reaganaut1

By the look of the drop out rates and the general ignorance of the populace at large, maybe they should just stick to basic readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic...


17 posted on 04/05/2011 6:02:51 AM PDT by apillar
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To: reaganaut1
Rosie O'Donnell had a great quote about this, about ten or twelve years ago. It went something like, “nobody needs to know why 2x+y=12, we have computers to tell us that.”

I had it on my wall for years.

Whenever one of our engineers made a stupid mistake, I'd point to it and say, “ahh, I see you graduated from Rosie U.”

I was gone for a couple of weeks and it disappeared. The quote may be gone but the ignorance remains.

18 posted on 04/05/2011 6:04:40 AM PDT by I cannot think of a name
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To: reaganaut1
A large fraction of the population does not have the capacity for abstract thinking to do Algebra II

They ought to -- if not there should be alternatives for them to move into a different stream. I believe calculus should be on the books for high school students

19 posted on 04/05/2011 6:06:47 AM PDT by Cronos (Wszystkiego najlepszego!)
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To: Thane_Banquo
...both for me and my mathematician friends--we generally liked Algebra, Algebra II, Pre-Calc, etc. in high school, and hated geometry. Conversely, those who are not mathematically inclined often prefer geometry. I think a lot of it has to do with the visualization.

Thanks for that reply...you have no idea how much sense that makes to me. I am a true visual learner and I also have a great memory. I actually found doing the proofs fun, and surprisingly not much of a challenge.

And I DID memorize the Pythagorean theorem, so I got something out of the deal.

20 posted on 04/05/2011 6:06:54 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: apillar

Your proposal would require teachers who can read, write, and do arithmetic. Have you read a recent letter to the editor or blog post written by a teacher?


21 posted on 04/05/2011 6:07:04 AM PDT by Tax-chick (We have lives.)
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To: Thane_Banquo

Ah yes...the NEW “new math.” LOL


22 posted on 04/05/2011 6:07:49 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: reaganaut1
Interesting take. I think your comment goes right to the heart of the question: What exactly is the purpose of a high school education?

I would suggest that anyone (especially an intelligent person by any objective measure) who is not capable of taking Algebra II because of their inability to understand abstract principles simply doesn't belong in the same academic program as someone who can do the work. Both students belong in high school, but it is obvious that they are not destined for the same career path and therefore it is a crime to pretend that they are.

23 posted on 04/05/2011 6:08:31 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: Thane_Banquo
Algebra II is not hard.
Easy for you to say - and me too. I took four years of math in HS, aced three out of the four and did most of it without even doing the homework.
Forty years later I have two kids - one teaches HS math (and can barely write a sentence), the other an English Lit teacher who can barely balance his checkbook.
Personally, I think the forced math requirement in HS should be dropped once a kid learns how to make change for a dollar in his head.
24 posted on 04/05/2011 6:08:58 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: reaganaut1
Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

As an employer I testify that a high school diploma is WORTHLESS as proof that someone can even read! Algebra II? Geeze! I would have been thrilled to get high school graduate applicants who could do long division! So....I have a better idea:

1) Get government completely out of the education business on every level. Government should have NOTHING to do with educating kids!

2) Charles Murray is right! We should move toward privately administered qualifying exams. If a kid passes a well recognized and accepted private test showing that he has mastered Algebra II then that would mean something, not only to the kid and his parents, but to employers and college admission administrators as well.

25 posted on 04/05/2011 6:08:58 AM PDT by wintertime
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To: reaganaut1

I graduated in 1988. We had to get two math credits, to include Algebra I, and II, then Geometry, Trig, then Calc.

I took Algebra I in 8th grade, II in 9th, and Geometry in 10th. No more math for me!


26 posted on 04/05/2011 6:09:31 AM PDT by Ro_Thunder (I sure hope there is a New Morning in America soon. All this hope and change is leaving me depressed)
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To: reaganaut1

So they are going to start teaching what used to be 7th grade material in High School ?? What a sad state of affairs our education system is in, abolish the whole damned thing and start over.


27 posted on 04/05/2011 6:09:46 AM PDT by eyeamok
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To: Thane_Banquo
BTW, you have also explained why (as much as I hated Algebra) I was actually good at isolating the variable.

Because I could SEE it. :-)

28 posted on 04/05/2011 6:10:10 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: reaganaut1

This proposal would be fine but for one problem. We do not have anyone in todays colleges or universities who can take the theoretical math and apply it to any practical application. Students are not being shown what the real live practical applications of math can do.


29 posted on 04/05/2011 6:12:08 AM PDT by Concho (-)
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To: Cronos
I believe calculus should be on the books for high school students
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

One way to get smarter government teachers would be to require Calculus. Everyone of them should be required to take Calculus I , in the **same** classes and side by side, with engineering, math, and hard science students.

If every government teacher in this nation were required to take the GED for high school drop outs how many would fail? How many would fail the math portion of the exam? How many can add, subtract, and multiply fractions? How many know the long division algorithm? Gee! I'd even give them the entire summer to study for the exam.

30 posted on 04/05/2011 6:15:14 AM PDT by wintertime
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To: Thane_Banquo

I’m a civil engineer. Growing up I always thought (and my grades confirmed) that math was my worst subject. When it came time to take my SAT, I got the same score in math and English...twice; total score back then was 1220, but I think they’ve since changed the scoring method.

I hated geometry, got a D one grade period and Bs and Cs the other. I went ahead and signed up for honors Algebra II; had to work my butt off and still barely pulled B/Cs. Which set me up for some regular everyday math class my senior year. My Algebra II teacher wouldn’t recommend me for trig & analytic geometry because of my grades. I sat through a week of that (I thought of it as remedial) math class my senior year and couldn’t stand it; biggest bunch of morons in that class that I had ever seen in my high school career. I talked my mom into signing an override so I could take trig & analyt. Again worked my butt off, but pulled A/Bs. Best thing I ever did for myself in high school. And I guess I did it because I was ashamed to be in that “remedial” math class that I could have coasted through. Amazing what a bit of shame and some hard work can accomplish.


31 posted on 04/05/2011 6:16:05 AM PDT by Roos_Girl (The world is full of educated derelicts. - Calvin Coolidge)
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To: reaganaut1
But exactly how to raise the education levels of the U.S. workforce is a matter of debate. And whether learning Algebra II causes students to fare better in life, or whether it is merely correlated with them doing better — because smart, motivated kids take Algebra II — isn’t clear.

Algebra II is a filter process. Somebody who cannot deal with Algebra II is unlikely to be able to do well in college or in any job that requires abstract thinking.

I disagree with making it a requirement, because so many low-IQ kids will flunk it that it will create overwhelming pressure to dumb it down to the point where IQ-80 kids can pass.

As others have noted, the solution is to have a viable Junior High School diploma which certifies that the holder can read and write tolerably, and do math through fractions and percents. Have school end for them at 16, and have them shift to job training.

32 posted on 04/05/2011 6:17:02 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("It is only when we've lost everything, that we are free to do anything" -- Fight Club)
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To: Concho
Students are not being shown what the real live practical applications of math can do.
Other than job specific requirements, what other applications of math are there in life other than simple arithmetic?
33 posted on 04/05/2011 6:19:18 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: reaganaut1

I would say that to do Algebra and Calculus requires the ability to develop abstract thinking. Hence, this is not good for the left. We can’t have young people develop this ability because they may actually think about things Obama says instead of just hearing “hope and change”. For myself, I did okay with Algebra I, II and Trig in high school. What kicked my butt in College was Statistics and Discrete Math.


34 posted on 04/05/2011 6:19:52 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: BobL
Hmmm, my kids had Algebra 2 wired by third grade (age 10)

That would be an amazing feat. Are you sure that your kids can handle imaginary numbers, simultaneous equations, the quadratic formula, factoring, completing the square, plotting functions, finding slopes ...?

BTW, I have a 4th grader grandson who is using Saxon Math and I hear it is quite good.

I'm also successfully tutoring a 12 year old grandson in Algebra I after pushing him through a 1 year Pre-Algebra book in about 8 weeks last summer. He is a 7th grader getting an A competing against the best of the 8th graders at his school.

35 posted on 04/05/2011 6:21:47 AM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: PapaBear3625
I disagree with making it a requirement, because so many low-IQ kids will flunk it
It's not always an IQ thing. Some very intelligent people do not have the capacity for math other than simple arithmetic.
36 posted on 04/05/2011 6:21:56 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: PapaBear3625

I don’t disagree in principle with your plan,
but the implementation would have to be very carefully watched at the local level (not higher),

because you don’t want the left/elitists “tracking” people into certain careers. They’re already trying to do that in order to make sure that only those with the “right” worldview get into positions of prestige and power.

If an assessment test showed someone to have a “too Christian” worldview, you can bet that that person will not be recommended for any track that might lead them into law or politics.


37 posted on 04/05/2011 6:21:56 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: ilovesarah2012
"Should be in elementary school! Have you seen students’ (including college) writing skills?"

I am 63 years old and went to the NYC Public School System from K-12. That was back when the NYC Public Schools were considered among the best in the country(BU, before unions).

I took Algebra I in the ninth grade, Algebra II in the eleventh grade, Geometry in the tenth grade and Calculus in the twelfth grade. There was nothing extraordinary about that for hundreds of my fellow student. It was generally considered what you needed to take for an Academic H.S. Diploma which would prepare you to go to college.

Today it is readily possible to get into college with the most basic math skills that prepare you to balance a check book and little else.

It is the dumbing down of our culture which started in the late nineteen sixties)and continues to this very day), which is hampering our ability to find qualified people to take over when my generation is out of the work force.

I work for an engineering company in NJ. The technical work force has no Caucasian Americans under the age of 30 and no African Americans at all. The engineers and computer science folks are mostly middle age white men and women as well as all ages of east and west Asians.

This is the contribution that the Unionizes Teachers of Public Schools has made to out culture as well as the politicians. That is why the get 4-5% raises every year.

38 posted on 04/05/2011 6:22:09 AM PDT by wmileo
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To: Roos_Girl

I’m a civil engineer, too. Struggled through all of my math classes in high school except geometry (for some reason I was so good at it that I practically could have taught the class myself). And yet I eventually understood all of it . . . it’s just that I was kind of like a year behind schedule. I could have aced Algebra I if I had taken a final exam in the middle of Algebra II, I finally understood Algebra II during my trigonometry/pre-calculus class the following year, etc. I think it’s because I never took to learning those subjects when they were “book subjects,” but everything clicked once I was in a situation where I had to know them almost by second nature in order to deal with another subject matter.


39 posted on 04/05/2011 6:22:31 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: wmileo

Teacher’s Unions
^^^^^^^^^^^^^

That will not solve the problem.

Efforts to improve education will not get anywhere until **GOVERNMENT** is out of the picture.

We need complete separation of school and state.


40 posted on 04/05/2011 6:22:42 AM PDT by wintertime
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To: reaganaut1

They’re going to have a hard time for requiring Algebra II for high school when they don’t bother requiring fractions for graduating elementary school or the times table for leaving third grade....


41 posted on 04/05/2011 6:23:11 AM PDT by Eepsy
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To: wmileo

Teacher’s Unions
^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I can see it now. In 50 years people will say, our health care system will not improve until Doctors and Nurses Unions are out of the picture.

No....The problem is having government in the picture!


42 posted on 04/05/2011 6:24:21 AM PDT by wintertime
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To: reaganaut1

Stuff Algebra, teach them the mathematics of basic finance. Maybe then they will understand why it isn’t good to borrow 800 dollars a week when you only make 100.


43 posted on 04/05/2011 6:25:02 AM PDT by Oshkalaboomboom
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To: reaganaut1
>>>>>>A large fraction of the population does not have the capacity for abstract thinking to do Algebra II<<<<<

Add to this that 25% of general population can not do even the basic math and you get very disturbing picture.

You know, the average Obummer voter.

44 posted on 04/05/2011 6:26:47 AM PDT by DTA (CENTCOM vs. AFRICOM)
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To: reaganaut1

OK, fellow smarty-pants here as well. Got through College Algebra in high school.

BUT.......Think back to your high school requirements. What did the lowest-performers have to do to get a diploma? Business math? Consumer math? My public high school, considered the best in the county, did NOT require all this abstract math in the 1970s to get a diploma.

The whole math thing is part of the “no one is different, equal outcomes for everyone, everyone goes to college” mantra.

All we are doing by not providing real-world math as a substitute requirement is churning out dropouts. And maybe for some, learning how to measure, do fractions and make change is a better use of time than the quadratic equation.


45 posted on 04/05/2011 6:26:56 AM PDT by jaybee
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To: PapaBear3625
As others have noted, the solution is to have a viable Junior High School diploma which certifies that the holder can read and write tolerably, and do math through fractions and percents. Have school end for them at 16, and have them shift to job training.

Oh please. So I was lousy at Algebra...in the end I passed. I also was a National Merit Letter of Commendation awardee, made the Dean's list in college, graduated with a degree in English, and later earned a paralegal certificate. I am very successful in my career, which, trust me, ain't easy.

By your thinking I suppose I wasn't college material. To that I say "hogwash."

46 posted on 04/05/2011 6:27:15 AM PDT by truthkeeper ( Life is a pre-existing condition - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: wmileo
I work for an engineering company in NJ. The technical work force has no Caucasian Americans under the age of 30 and no African Americans at all.

I am a mechanical engineer, and I haven't seen the lack of Caucasian Americans under 30 for our company. However, the number of AAs in mechanical engineering is quite low.

47 posted on 04/05/2011 6:28:44 AM PDT by kosciusko51
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To: reaganaut1

Algebra by middle school.
Calculus in High School.

We taught my nieces and nephews to were do quadratics in 5th grade. It ain’t hard, just requires practice and an open mind.

Now, trying to figure out why anyone voted for the Teleprompter-in-Chief, now that is a mind-numbing problem.


48 posted on 04/05/2011 6:31:47 AM PDT by Macoozie (Go Sarah! Palin/Bolton 2012)
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To: reaganaut1

Bookmark.


49 posted on 04/05/2011 6:32:41 AM PDT by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: reaganaut1

I’m amazed this even has to be an issue. We hear all these lamentations about how our children aren’t ready for college, we don’t graduate enough engineers and doctors, etc., etc.

Well, we either get the ball rolling or we don’t. Looks like they’ll have to delete one of their Gay History or Multiculturalism Appreciation class time slots.

Oh, the huge manatee!


50 posted on 04/05/2011 6:33:57 AM PDT by ScottinVA (Imagine.... a world without islam.)
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