On last month’s post about the public innumeracy of a Florida school board member, Tom Singer posts an update, which includes a link to a follow-up at the Washington Post blog that started the whole thing. In the course of rounding up reactions to the original, the author, Valerie Strauss, writes:
In fact, there were a lot of readers who responded to the posts saying exactly what Roach suggested: He’s been out of school too long. Others questioned why a successful businessman couldn’t pass 10th-grade math. (I looked at FCAT 10th-grade questions and couldn’t do them myself, but math has always been a crucible for me.)
I’ve been thinking about the general question of societal attitudes toward math and science again, for unrelated reasons, and this continues to be a *headdesk* moment for me. If you want to know why we’re stuck with an utter clown show of economic policy, a good place to start would be the fact that a person who is paid to write about education issues by one of the nation’s pre-eminent newspapers can breezily shrug off her inability to do tenth-grade math problems.
As I said before, in a sane world, a public intellectual (even a low-level one like a newspaper writer) would be as ashamed to admit to innumeracy as to illiteracy. In this world, well, we can’t seriously expect an education writer to know math, can we? I mean, math is, like, hard, y’know?