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[Susan notes: I'm surprised they published my letter. The opinion piece I was complaining about was written by the paper's editor. Gerald Bracey's wisdom lives on.]

Published in Burlington Free Press

To the editor

'Malevolent tyranny of algebra'

The only thing the writer makes clear in Voice of the Free Press: Expect more from students(Aug. 8) is that an ardor for algebra does not help in understanding what standardized testing is all about.

Standardized testing is a political tool. The âprogress measurements,â required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the editorial writer refers to stipulate that 100 percent of students must meet the standard. This means every school in the country will fail: No excuses for the students who have learning difficulties or the immigrant students who have not yet learned English.

Vermont is much further from this federal definition of failure than most states. We are tied for second place in the nation on 8th grade math scores. Those same 8th graders are tied for first place in reading.

Although the governor and the Burlington Free Press are captivated by the Lorelei lure of the algebra myth, theyâd do well to read the eminent education researcher and debunker of flimflam Gerald Bracey, described by the Washington Post as âone of the most erudite, prolific and acidic critics of national education policy.â Bracey wrote about âthe algebra hoaxâ and âthe malevolent tyranny of algebra,â pointing out that algebra has no value for most people.

If your goal is to raise scores on standardized tests, lobbying for a living wage for all will be much more effective than telling kids and teachers to work harder.

Susan Ohanian

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