http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/07/does-algebra-help-you-think-better The main concern that I have with the idea that algebra should be elective is that students who are not initially ‘good’ at algebra may be dropped from the course, when all they may need is more help or an alternate teaching approach. Also, how many students won’t even bother trying? How many students won’t even consider STEM careers and will close themselves off to the possibility before they even have a shot because they’re “not smart enough” or “they won’t use it in the future.”?
When we talk about people like this — the exceptions to the rule — we aren’t scrounging through the dust-bin, trying desperately to find tokens we can hold up as a sop for women and minorities. We’re taking off the filters that make us dismiss those people as tokens. No, women weren’t fifty percent of the scientists in past centuries; it’s true that men did dominate that field. But it’s sheer laziness and sloppy thinking to assume that “dominance” = “total control,” while writing off anybody who wasn’t a white male as an “assistant” or “secretary” or “wife.” Many of them were scientists in their own right, partners to the names we know, their efforts denigrated at the time or very often by later historians who couldn’t imagine that a woman or a black man, or might actually do anything of substance.