College Math Professors: Students can’t Subtract

By | September 24, 2023

[September 24, 2023]  Fifteen years ago, when I lived in Brooklyn, New York, I was affiliated with one of their colleges near my home.  I often talked with counselors who worked with incoming Freshmen to improve their math and reading skills.  The college math professors told us that about half the students couldn’t do even High School math.  Today, it is much worse.

We are now in a post-COVID world, where most incoming college students have had little or no education for the past three years, and it shows.  In math, it shows how far basic skills have deteriorated to the point of embarrassment.  These students cannot subtract a positive number from a negative number.

“We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.” – Maria Emelianenko, George Mason University, Mathematics Chair

 Of course, if we look at math (and reading) scores before COVID-19, we see a failure trend before the pandemic.  We need to stop using COVID as an excuse.  There is a bigger problem, and it’s not just the kids; it’s the teachers and their unions.  The priority in schools today has nothing to do with the kids.

A little story from my college experience.  While working on an advanced college degree, I taught an introductory algebra class with mostly Freshmen around 1980.  My tests were often word problems.  One student approached me to admit he could not read and asked if he could take a different test.  And this was 43 years ago.  The problem goes back a long way.  By the way, the student failed and didn’t get special privileges.

Here is the problem today in a nutshell.  We are dumbing down schools so that everyone can pass.  This means no one can excel.    Meritocracy is seen as a racist concept, and most teachers don’t want to be called a racist and fired.  And here is the result.  Dumb kids that can’t subtract.


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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “College Math Professors: Students can’t Subtract

  1. Nick Lighthouse

    Gen. Satterfield, you sure nailed it. In America, the public education system has outright failed us. Don’t expect much from them except pushing propaganda down our kids’ mouths. They tell us what to say and not say and yet we are not being taught anything of value. Kids in college can’t ever subtract. I learned that in the first grade. What is going on. Oh, I see, we are racists for making black kids learn something useful. Too bad the black culture is crashing and everyone is standing back and saying, “Whoa, that’s sad. Let me get my chicken sandwich at Popeyes.”

  2. Sissy Woman

    I love this website on leadership by Gen. Doug Satterfield and his wonderful guest writers (well, most of them).

      1. Wendy Holmes

        Wooooo, Gen. Satterfield, you opened a huge can of worms with that question. Let me see if I can answer it. A woman is an adult female. Ta Da. Answer found.

        1. Desert Cactus

          YOu guys are all over it. Why couldn’t I get here fast enough to give a straightforward answer to Gen. Satterfield’s question. I asked this same question to one of my liberal neighbors and I just stood there as she took about 5 minutes going down the rabbit hole. Finally she just cursed at me and ran into her house. Satisfaction guarenteed when you ask that question. Thank you sir.

  3. Jonnie the Bart

    Let’s start setting high standards. I know that makes parents and teachers triggered but I don’t care. High standards matter.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Hey, JT, great to see you on today. Hope you and your family are well. We’ve been on Gen. Satterfield’s personal blog for many years now and it is a great place to read a quick piece about leadership. Today we are reading about FAILED leadership, even if Gen. Satterfield does say it. Our schools are a huge failure. The causes are many but the teachers unions are at the core of the problem along with stupid, lazy parents. School boards today are WOKE, and they are also making it worse. Thanks for being such a loyal reader of this blog. As a High School teacher, I can attest to this degradation in learning standards and more of a focus on woke sex topics.

      1. Obama Cash

        So sad. We will pay a price for these failures for at least a couple of generations. Thanks Pres biden, the key ‘person’ in the Biden Crime Family.
        Remember this next time, liberals, when things go to shi# and you want to blame conservatives. You are the reason. No one else. 😎

    1. Audrey

      Yeah, I just saw a news program that had ‘reporters’ ask young adults how many years were in a century. Most commons answer: 12. Then they asked the question, ‘if you were born 5 years ago, how old would you be?’ None got the answer right. Now, we are raising some really dumb kids.

      1. Winston

        The real issue, IMHO, is that these kids have zero interest in learning those skills they need to survive in a modern society. They are more interested in getting s3x and ran through regularly. A bunch of ho3s could not tell you who the current president is on any day of the week.


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