In the Friday, Sept. 6 Payson Roundup, reporter Michele Nelson writes that “Payson High School no longer offers calculus because only half a dozen students wanted to take the advanced math class.” Instead of finding a solution to keep advanced math an integral part of the curriculum, the school board and administrators have let these hard-working students down.
Fifty years ago, my cousin David attended Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix. By his senior year, this honor student had taken all of the math Carl Hayden had to offer. In order to take calculus, David had to ride his bike to Phoenix College. Times have changed since 1963 or so I thought. It amazes me that Payson does not offer calculus this school year. I simply thought that calculus had become an established part of the high school curriculum.
Surprisingly, the six advanced students at Payson High School who need to take calculus are out of luck. Not offering calculus puts these students at a disadvantage in today’s highly competitive world of technology. Colleges who look over the resumés of these students will wonder about their lack of higher math. Bringing high-tech companies to Payson becomes a problem when their employees see that PUSD has lowered the bar in math.
We live in an educational climate in which we raise our standards high to compete with Japan and other highly technical countries. We’ve implemented AIMS and Common Core. Yet when students excel in academics and complete requirements, they cannot advance to a higher course of study.
Surely, the board and administrators can think outside the box to fund the future for these young people. Do we have a retired math teacher living in Payson who would love to teach calculus to six gifted students for one hour a day? Maybe a high-tech company offers grants to high schools to bring their math program up to today’s standards? Can the district buy an online course in calculus? How about a bond election to support our educational system?
Or perhaps, we can go back to the 1960s and transport these students to the local junior college each day to take advanced math. Oh wait, northern Gila Community College doesn’t offer calculus as well.
Brenda Mooney, retired educator