THE ALGEBRA HATERS CLUB….Just for the record, I think that a lot of people are missing the point of Richard Cohen’s anti-algebra screed in today’s Washington Post. To be sure, I’ll grant that this sentence about algebra’s value is beyond idiotic:

It has its uses, I suppose, and I think it should be available for people who want to take it.

Gee, thanks, Richard! That’s mighty open-minded of you! But setting this silliness aside, Cohen’s serious point isn’t really whether algebra is useful or not, it’s whether it should be required to graduate from high school. That is, if you find yourself completely unable to fathom algebra, should you be condemned to spend the rest of your life as a high school dropout? I don’t really have an opinion about this, but it’s a serious question.

On the other hand, Cohen says he can’t do percentages either, and if that’s the case then maybe he should go back to high school. At the very least, he should be as ashamed of this as he apparently is of his nameless high school friend who didn’t know where the Sahara Desert was. I’d venture to guess that calculating percentages is a whole lot more useful in modern adult life than knowing the location of the world’s great deserts.