Algebra? We Don't Need No Stinking Algebra!
P.Z. Myers has a post, Richard Cohen, advocate for ignorance
castigating Mr. Cohen for saying that people don't need to understand algebra, and that language and history are more important. According to Mr. Cohen, you can buy a calculator to deal with math. Others have been less strident, and some agree that there is some logic to Mr. Cohen's claim.
First of all, it is algebra that provides the logic and rules you need to enter the numbers and symbols into a calculator to get a meaningful answer to anything more complex than addition or subtraction.
If you believe that financial institutions will automatically give you the best rates on your loans and savings, making comparisons unnecessary, you don't need algebra.
If you think politicians always tell you the truth about what they are doing with taxes and spending, you don't need algebra.
If you believe that contractors always provide accurate estimates, you don't need algebra.
If I have a complex problem I will write a computer program to solve the problem. Without the logic of algebra I can't write that program. I don't have to do the addition, subtraction, etc. but I do have to understand the logic involved.
You have to make a lot of decisions in life that are based on numbers: job offers, purchases, spending, etc. If you don't understand the logic involved in making meaningful comparisons, you might as well flip a coin. It's your choice: luck, or learn the logic required to make an informed decision.
You really need to experience a range of things in high schools. Reading and writing are the most important skills that need to be developed because everything else depends on it, but you need to understand numbers and science in today's world or have the money to buy the knowledge.
English, social studies, science, and mathematics are not a lot to ask from people who are going to be allowed to vote.