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Editor: As a resident of Fairfax County for more than 40 years, and a professional whose entire career has focused on workers building skills for the future, I am sad to see decision-makers in our county dumbing down the advanced math and science taught at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology.
Worst of all, they are doing it under the guise of “helping” minority students.
As a former high-school dropout, who later had to master math and optical physics to become a licensed optician, I understand the challenge of mastering complex subjects. But these challenges must be met by all students.
I represent an organization of skilled craftsmen and -women employed in jobs that require a knowledge of engineering, science and math. These workers must be skilled enough to manage computer-controlled machines to create products with tolerances that are within a few thousandths of an inch. These tolerances are needed whether creating components for a nuclear submarine or manufacturing titanium dental implants.
Even entry-level jobs require skills in math. Huntington Ingalls Industries is one of the largest employers in Virginia. Its shipyard at Newport News builds aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. Many think that shipyard work requires brawn, not brains. Not so. Each year some 4,000 applicants apply for the 220 openings in their coveted apprenticeship program. Applicants must be proficient in algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
We want all of our students to have the highest qualifications that will prepare them to succeed in the job challenges they will face in the future. Global competition requires a knowledge of more than just basic arithmetic. Our young people must be prepared to meet the challenges that lay ahead.
Fairfax County once led the way. In an effort to be “woke,” let us not dumb down standards that will turn out students who are unprepared to work in a global economy.
Expect more from all students, not less.
Michael P. Balzano, Ph.D., McLean
Balzano is executive director of the National Industrial Base Workforce Coalition.