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Should algebra be a requirement for all community college students?




Fire Portegies, 11, is going into sixth grade at the end of this summer. Portegies completes an exercise during the fourth week of a pre-algebra class at the West Angeles Church Youth Center on Thursday afternoon, July 30, 2015.
Fire Portegies, 11, is going into sixth grade at the end of this summer. Portegies completes an exercise during the fourth week of a pre-algebra class at the West Angeles Church Youth Center on Thursday afternoon, July 30, 2015.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Here's a classic algebra word problem. Ready? Megan is twice as old as Lori. Three years from now, the sum of their ages will be 42. How old is Megan?

While you are pondering that, ponder this: Is algebra keeping students of color from attending - and getting a degree - at California community colleges?

The head of the state's community college systems thinks it might be.  Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley told the LA TImes he's considering dropping it as a requirement for students that aren't studying science, technology, engineering or math. 

That's about three-fourths of all students enrolled in community colleges.

But really... how often do most of us who made it through school ACTUALLY use algebra in our daily lives?

We hit the streets to hear what Southern Californian's think about dropping it as a required class, and most in our informal survey said it was not a good idea. Not surprisingly, Marina Del Rey Middle School math teacher Bootise Battle-Holt, says algebra is important for all students.

“People face many hurdles in life - that’s part of life. That’s what we’re trying to convey with math education in this era, is that learning to problem-solve, and learning to get past things that are difficult, that’s part of learning entirely. There’s obviously a need for support for students who are struggling with math in college. Adding support and lowering that hurdle is a much better way to look at the situation than removing that hurdle entirely."

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above. 



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