At 04:39 PM 8/25/2013, Robert Hansen wrote:

Algebra is too hard for these students because these students are not thinking. My solution. Make sure that they can think first, before you teach them algebra.

It's true but it is both easier and harder than that would indicate.  The real key is algebra readiness; basically competent computational skill through ordinary fractions and percent with lots of straightforward ("cookbook" if you will) word problems of mixed nature through ratio and proportion problems so that students have to actually read the problem to understand which and how the numerical aspects are relevant, (have the requisite "tools " to) set up and solve the resulting mathematics problem, and interpret the results back to the original setting. Second hand by way of Frank Wang:
My favorite quote of John Saxon is "Creativity springs unsolicited from a well-prepared mind."  He usually continued by explaining that he did not believe that creativity could be taught and that all that we could and should do as a publisher is give students the curriculum that would enable students to develop a well-prepared mind.  Another quote that I liked but never stated publicly is:  "What these people (referring to the leaders of education establishment and of the schools of education) have done is criminal !  To call these people total charlatans and frauds is to euphemize it!"
[For the uninitiated, Frank Wang, PhD in number theory was an original assistant of John Saxon as a high school student (along with brother Mark, his PhD from MIT was in physics, now a senior researcher with RAND) who returned to become CEO of Saxon Publishers after his bachelors in math at Princeton and PhD from MIT in number theory (at the height of the final cracking of the FLT nut at Princeton).  In the mid-90s when it was really hot stuff, Frank offered to give an hour address to the NCTM the annual meeting outlining its solution at the level of a well-prepared high school mathematics teacher.  Rest assured, it would've been great, he is a teacher par excellance (was a member of MIT's alumni advisory group for their freshman math program for at least a decade (still is?) because of his reputation there as one of their very best teaching assistants.)  The NCTM response?  No thank you; your association with Saxon Math is too strong and directly in conflict with our new shiny so-called "Standards".]


Stop taking for granted what we know is not true! And that doesn't mean teach them formal logic. They will suck at that just as well. Math-smart kids can take these courses and thrive because they think. The others wilt and die because they don't. Courses like algebra work great for kids already thinking. That is historically what that track was about. Putting everyone in algebra might have been a noble thought a long time ago, but at this point with what we now know, it is nothing but irresponsibility and negligence.