I was able to attend briefly the Data Science Summit at Stanford organized by Dr. Boaler and Steven Levitt. Mr. Levitt makes a point in this article that “A mathematical way of thinking, numeracy, data literacy, is far more important today than it has been; the ability to visualize data, the ability to make sense out of a pile of numbers, has never been more important, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the math curriculum.” His key point is that should the way we teach mathematics in school be centralized around data and computing.
There is a strong emphasis on calculus in most schools including two AP tests which test one’s competency in calculus. Calculus progress determines which students are the most advanced in mathematics in high schools and it has been like that for a very long time now. I believe that calculus foundational skills are absolutely necessary for many physical and social sciences besides college mathematics. However, given where we are as a society and how much digital data is generated every day, I agree that statistics/data science should be emphasized in the high schools and offered as a choice. I personally see this in addition to calculus and not in lieu of. Let’s see how the rollout of Introduction to Data Science course that was co-developed by UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District is received. Also, we as a society will need to figure out how to train teachers around the country to be able to teach such courses.