Re: "It doesn't add up," editorial, Aug. 16

California's omnipotent policymakers are now mandating Algebra I for all eighth-graders. Yet they threw out the Algebra I course entirely in the early 1990s when I taught at the L.A. Center for Enriched Studies. To properly prepare students for success with Algebra I, my school required a rigorous pre-algebra course. Hoping to buy better textbooks, we learned that educrats had deleted pre-algebra, Algebra I and geometry from the state-approved courses and had adopted Integrated Math. We hustled to buy new Algebra I books before the deadline and avoided the Integrated Math fad, which failed.

Algebra I students must build on previously mastered content like positive and negative numbers, equations and graphing, and word problems. Without this foundation, students cannot absorb topics in the proper sequence and depth. Teachers may lower expectations lest confused students become disruptive. But what is gained if Algebra I for all is watered down to accommodate some?

And who will teach it? College graduates with math backgrounds have job opportunities that are more inviting and better paying than coping with large classes of unprepared teenagers. The "California Algebra I Success Initiative" is sure to bring frustration and failure to our children.