Calculus or Statistics? This is the Great Decision for Tomorrow’s Third Graders.

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Thousands of American high-school students on Tuesday will take the Advanced Placement calculus exam. Many are probably dreading it, perhaps seeing the test as an attempt to show off skills they will never use. What if they’re right?

I started thinking about this recently when my 14-year-old daughter was doing her pre-calculus homework. I couldn’t help wondering: Is this the best direction for children her age? Students need skills to thrive in the 21st-century workplace, and I’m not convinced calculus is high on that list. Sure, calculus is essential for some careers, particularly in physics and engineering. But few eighth-graders are set on those fields.

Nobody takes calculus in ninth grade unless they’re a super-genius. So was this entire op-ed just an excuse to brag on his daughter? Why else would he make completely unnecessary references to her age three separate times?

Anyway, his larger point is that he’d rather see high-school students take computer programming or statistics. I suppose I agree, though I’ll confess to second thoughts lately on statistics, which I think benefits from a certain level of numerical maturity that might be missing in high school. But I’m not sure about that.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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