Educational system put to test for decades; family saved for college education

The problem of college mathematics

There is current news on the intent of the state legislature to have the governor’s office take responsibilities away from the State Board of Education, and the articles on the subject include a discussion of the 2021 Ohio Remediation Report. That report states that the percentage of students going to higher education and requiring remediation in mathematics and/or English is declining.

Most of that gain appears to have been achieved by changing definitions.

When I started teaching mathematics at the University of Akron in 1978, approximately 80% of the incoming students had not mastered Algebra I enough to pass a placement test into a college-level mathematics course.

That 80% figure was national, often quoted as “only 15% of 12th grade students were ready for a college-level math course.” (The difference in percentages was due to those students who didn’t go to higher education.)

When I retired in 2017, that 80% figure had not changed, despite the addition of lots of technology, and rounds of “innovation” from Colleges of Education.

So, universities and colleges around the country were under pressure to “fix” the problem, and responded by generating courses which were not actually college-level, simply eliminating the requirement for a math course or redefining what a math course was. Others, such as the University of California system, have tried to hide the problem by “just in time” remediation, which works about as well as one would expect.

After a half century of teaching and thinking about this problem, I wish I could have an answer, as a genuine solution would likely make me rich. I can, however, safely say that wishing it away doesn’t help.

TS Norfolk, Atwater

Stop bulldozing our trees

I’m with the people of White Pond Drive. Stop wiping out our wooded areas — we don’t need any more high-priced dwellings or shopping centers at the cost of our wooded areas. Not only are you taking away our oxygen-producing trees, you are taking away the shelter the indigenous animals use and need. Remember what it was like to play in the woods when we were kids? Look at what’s been happening with the world’s rainforests if you need further convincing.

John C. Stouffer Jr., Akron

Family sacrifices for college

Here is a voice for those who have gone to college or paid for a loved one’s education without assistance or loans. When my son was born in 2003, we immediately applied for his Social Security number, and upon getting it, we started an Ohio 529 college savings plan before he was 3 months old. Every month to the present day, money is deducted directly from my bank account into his college fund.

It’s not been easy and there were months when our family had to do without things, and of course we could have used that money to buy nicer things or entertain ourselves, but the payment has always been deducted. My son is now in his second year as a full-time student at the University of Akron. I feel that the 529 Plan is the most important bill that I pay every month.

I feel it is extremely unfair that others may get their loans forgiven. In many cases, had the students or their parents just planned ahead and sacrificed as my family has, the loans would have never been needed in the first place.

Lee Volkov, Copley

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Education system has pondered math, English for decades