Moses bases these goals on two concepts of education which are widely held in the American public. One concept is that American children are entitled to free public education, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The other, newer idea is that all children can learn and that all children deserve the best education they can receive. Moreover, such an education is an absolute necessity for their future. These commonly held beliefs serve as the foundation for the goal of The Algebra Project, just as the concept of the "One Person, One Vote" provided the foundation for the goal for voter registration in Mississippi in the sixties. Moses drew from these concepts of education and learning the idea that every student in the United States would complete a college preparatory mathematics curriculum in high school. Moses knew that only 11 percent of students in the United States now complete a math program in high school. Moses saw the problem with his own child's attitude toward math education. Moses says that the work of the Algebra Project is to help close the gap between universal public education and universal completion of high school college preparatory math courses. Thus, the first "if, then" sentence states that if we can educate our children well, then we should. The second "if, then" sentence states a more refined goal: If we can teach students Algebra in the middle school years, then we should do it. Moses thinks that if students don't acquire a basic understanding of math in the middle school years, they will be excluded from more advanced math in high school. This exclusion will have an effect on their entire life. Moreover, he wanted to dispel the notion that only some people are able to do math. Moses views the "crawl space" for The Algebra Project as the worldwide move from an industrial age, where the workforce just needed to read and write, to a future where there is a great reliance on technology. This reliance on technology requires the use of an individual's mental powers more than physical powers. Moses thinks that for an individual to succeed, he or she must be proficient in math and science. Two of the necessary concepts were in place: the shared goal, and the crawl space. Organizing the community around The Algebra Project was the next step. In the tradition of the black community in Mississippi, Moses started with his family. He went to his eldest daughter's school and asked her teacher if he could teach his daughter algebra during class time. His daughter was already proficient in the math being taught at school, and refused to do more advanced math (i.e., algebra) at home. Her teacher agreed to Moses' request, and asked that a few other students be included. Moses' work with his daughter and some of her classmates grew to involve her math teacher and the rest of the students. Other parents, too, became interested and involved in their child's math education. Not only did many parents request that their children in the seventh and eighth grade study algebra, but some parents also took algebra classes at the school on Saturday mornings. Today, three of Moses' children are involved in The Algebra Project as teachers and partners in the Young Peoples' Project. Moses also fulfilled the last element of good organization. His work
in teaching algebra and organizing a community around the teaching of
algebra was taking place where he lived. Working at the local level, Moses
and others who shared his views of the importance of math education developed
a program which continues to grow. Just as the voter registration program
of the 1960s enabled people to exercise political power, the Algebra Project
enables young people to develop their intellect and to enhance their ability
to succeed in a technological economy and society. |
Learn more about organizing the community
in Archive >> Links.
See what the "one person one vote" meant in the context of Civil
Rights
See how Robert Moses uses his
organizing skills
to promote the voter registration in the context of Civil
Rights |
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