Go into any store and if the clerk at the cash register is under the age of about twenty-five ask them “How much do I owe you?” (Let’s assume you owe $4.16 in this example.) Then ask, “Before you ring it up, if I give you a $20.00 bill what will you owe me?”
The amount you tender can be anything from $5 to $100, and the answer is obvious and easy so long as you can mentally subtract $4.16 from $5.00. In five years of doing this little test I only had one clerk give me the answer and she did it confidently and without hesitation. I finally got tired of asking because the result was so predictable it became embarrassing. All but this one person looked at me with a blank stare, and I was hesitant to ask it she was home schooled.
If the next generation of young people coming into the workforce cannot make change without a cash register, phone, or calculator then as a nation we are in tough shape. Young people who cannot add or subtract to 100 are not going to excel in business, science, or any other discipline that requires math. And guess what, they all require math!
It would be unfair and inaccurate to point the finger at our teachers. The responsibility starts and ends with parents and voters. For too long we have put people in political office who dictate social agendas for our schools that have little to do with achievement. Parents have assumed that school is preparing their children for success. But teachers don’t have a chance to teach when they are distracted by social agendas. Reversing this decline is a shared responsibility of us all. Politics has no place in school other than in history classes.
Our foreign adversaries don’t waste time arguing about what bathroom their children use, or preferred pronouns; they are focused on becoming the best in disciplines that will move their societies forward. Right now, good old reading, writing, and arithmetic are looking surprisingly good, but above the skill set of most.