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Attack on Algebra Does Not Compute

October 19, 2003

The two letters to the editor addressing "Teaching Algebra to All," Oct. 12, appear to demean the teaching of various aspects of math because it has no value in today's society. If you want to change today's school curriculum, based on the value of a subject's contribution to society, wouldn't it be more meaningful to do away with the teaching of history? How does history enhance the effectiveness of doctors, engineers, rocket scientists, physicists, etc.?

The same can be said of other subjects such as black or Hispanic studies. I see the value of math in today's working environment more than I do the worth of many other school subjects.

Charles E. Sylvia

Los Alamitos


I found the letter to The Times from Thurber Proffitt very funny. I was just telling my kids how important math is, and especially algebra, in my job. I work and have worked for the past 15 years in the water and waste-water industry providing crucial services to the citizens of Orange County.

The proper treatment of our water and waste water requires the treatment plant operator to use his algebraic skills everyday. We use it to determine the proper dosages of chemicals to treat the water. This affects all of our health and well-being. If this fact was made clear to the writer of that letter, he may change his tune.

Try not to think about it the next time you take a drink of water (from any source, bottled or tap). I know I sure hope the treatment operators are very competent in their algebraic kills. We really need to keep the algebra education going in the schools. Even if Proffitt never used it in 40 years, lots of very important people do -- like the ones making your drinking water safe.

We really do need algebra in "real" life.

Vincent Lockyer


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