Here's an original (and fallacious) thought: when times get rough,
absolve children of the need to learn math. That, at least, is the story
coming out of Oregon, where budget woes have allegedly forced the state
to drop its brand-new graduation requirements in algebra, geometry, and
statistics. Set only six months ago, the new bar would turn the already
existing high school state math test into a graduation requirement for
this year's crop of 9th graders. But since more than half of sophomores
typically fail the exam on the first try, the state board of education
felt it would be too daunting a challenge to ramp up student performance
in time to require total math literacy by 2012. We can't help but
wonder if this is a lawsuit-avoidance strategy, as some courts have
looked askance at states that set tough graduation expectations but
don't provide all manner of extra help to struggling students. Or maybe
the economy is just an easy excuse for policymakers to take the easy way
out. You know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough...
run in the other direction?

"Oregon to delay math requirement for graduation," by Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian, December 12, 2008

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