Re "No Algebra, No Graduation," Oct. 6: I spent 28 years of my life teaching physics, math and assorted science courses on both the high school and college level. The algebra I taught was necessary for my students to pass my physics courses; however, I always wondered of what use is algebra to the students who do not go on to take the next level of chemistry, electronics or physics. Reading the Algebra I sample problems in the article I wondered of what use is the ability to simplify b raised to the minus-5 power to the plumber, carpenter, salesperson, mail carrier or even a pilot, doctor or lawyer.

I contend that much of the practical application of algebra (if indeed ever needed in adult life) is now obsolete because of the power of hand-held calculators. Shouldn't a math curriculum at least include proficiency with calculators, especially the application of memory functions? I would love to teach a course called "Algebra With a Calculator," but alas, I retired from teaching and am now a businessman. But how about teaching the math we really need? Yes, I'm talking about business math. I never learned it in school. I learned it the hard way. Knowing all the algebra I ever taught never helped in my business. Do we not shortchange our students by not teaching them something about mortgage interest, percentage markups, income tax, life insurance, balancing your checkbook, household budgets, investments and even the danger of scams? Can't we rethink the skills our students really need in life?