While I've been running away to join the circus, and working on the railroad, Professor Newmark has done additional research. There's a link-rich essay by self-confessed "recovering English major" Jennifer Ouellette worth your perusal, and from her summary comes this gem from P. Z. Myers.
We ought to face reality: most of these students might graduate, but they’ll never crack another book in their life, the bulk of their written communications skills require nothing more than their thumbs and a tiny screen and fleeting comments that require neither punctuation nor even lower case — Y U NO WRT ME? — let alone grammar. If they make it to their version of advanced studies — business school — the epitome of literacy will be the 5 line, six words per line bullet point slide in PowerPoint, and most of the lines will consist of stock phrases.Wipe the coffee spray off your keyboard, and go read the article and the comments.
With the academic year about to begin, you must remember this.
Setting algebra as a minimum is actually setting a low bar. If a third of the students are failing that minimal expectation, then the solution isn’t to simply disappear the requirement, but to teach it better. Or admit that students who can’t read, who can’t write, who can’t do a simple algebraic manipulation, are not educated. Period. No excuses.Indeed.