Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: We should take math as seriously as we do baseball

July 20, 2012 

We don’t take math seriously enough around here.

I mean, why are adults brawling at Little League baseball games but not at elementary school math competitions?

Maybe we're not good at math because we don't care enough about it.

I'm not saying that baseball's not important. Baseball is very important. Baseball instills discipline, teaches respect for authority and builds character.

Well, at least for the kids.

Besides, baseball's a beautiful game. An American invention. A great way to pass an evening, whether as a player or as a spectator of any team at any level.

Nobody needs convincing of this. Around here, we love baseball.

We win district championships and state championships and region championships and even national and world championships.

If we have a son, we believe he will one day be drafted, or at least play on ESPN, because another kid in our neighborhood did it.

We should be proud of this, except on the rare occasion when police are slapping handcuffs on the adults behind the outfield fence.

But we're not exactly state champions in math.

Maybe you heard.

This year the Muscogee County School District improved on last year's dismal Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores in every category except -- you got it -- math.

In fact, our elementary schools met or exceeded math standards at a rate of about 13 percentage points below the state average, and our middle schools were about 8 points below the average.

We're talking about the state of Georgia, people.

If you hail from north of Macon Road, you're probably thinking to yourself that if the city split into two school districts, that the upper half would easily beat the state average in math.

Not true. Take away the 22 Title I elementary schools, and the remaining 12 schools would still fall short of the rest of the state. Take away the six Title I middle schools, and the remaining six would fall short as well.

Yes, the schools in north Columbus are below average, too.

In north Columbus, if your child is below average, you buy him a $300 bat or you pay a pitching instructor $50-$70 an hour to teach him how to throw a curveball.

Then maybe one day your kid will strike out a shortstop from Japan on national television.

That makes sense, I guess. We want our kids to have the best opportunities and to experience success.

So why don't we get our kids a tutor when they don't understand why their math problems suddenly contain letters? Why do we accept a B on a report card but not an error in centerfield?

Just something to think about.

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, can be reached at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com

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