"Bruce M. Ikenaga" <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: > It's not much fun to try to teach people who don't want >to learn. On the other hand, I'm glad that we *don't* give >up on kids too quickly. The point is not simply to raise >test scores, after all --- it is to do whatever works best >for the society as a whole.
I was with you until the last line. Shouldn't that be "whatever works best for each individual kid"? Society has an interest, too, of course, but to my eye the central meaning of your post is that rigid tracking may work for society, on average, at the expense of particular kids who might have done better with more opportunity/encouragement.
By the way, getting back to the "algebra for all" debate: Even if one thinks that some kids can't do algebra, I'd like to suggest that performance in elementary school arithmetic isn't necessarily the best predictor. I'm an example; I hated arithmetic, finding it boring beyond belief. I did okay at it because I was a pretty compliant kid, but I wasn't an arithmetic star. But the day I got into algebra class it was like fireworks going off in my head, and I read the entire textbook in a week. I suspect I'm not unique in this respect -- lots of kids find arithmetic boring, and some of them aren't so compliant, and therefore end up in remedial math in high school.
So maybe every kid should get a shot at algebra, even if we don't insist that every kid be a success at algebra.