Texas Board of Education Revisits Debate Over Algebra II

As we've reported earlier this week, the State Board of Education is weighing what courses will count toward high school graduation. Today they heard different opinions when it comes to high school math.

The marathon meeting had a strong sense of déjà vu.

Most of the discussion focused on one question: Should every high school student in Texas take algebra II?

State Education Board Member Geraldine Miller questions one business leader in Austin.

"Why would a welder need algebra II? Now he doesn't need a college education, but he needs algebra II, a welder does. You got a problem with that?"

"Yes ma'am."

Earlier this year when state lawmakers overhauled what it takes to finish high school, they decided no. Algebra II isn't a basic class for everyone – just for students who want to go to college.

But the state board of education is rethinking that.

Today the board heard from more than 80 people.

Mike Meroney with the Jobs for Texas Coalition agrees with state lawmakers.

"Algebra II is a fantastic course. Chemistry and physics are both fantastic courses. Should they be a requirement of every student to get a job? We disagree."

Others made the case for algebra II. Celina Moreno is with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

"Algebra II is critical to ensure that opportunities are not limited and the doors remain open after high school."

Moreno fears minority students in particular will have fewer options without advanced math. The state board will make its final decision in January.

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Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...