The interesting question isn’t, “Should every high school graduate in the US have to take Algebra?” Our world is increasingly automated and programmed and if you want any kind of active participation in that world, you’re going to need to understand variable representation and manipulation. That’s Algebra. Without it, you’ll still be able to clothe and feed yourself, but that’s a pretty low bar for an education. The more interesting question is, “How should we define Algebra in 2012 and how should we teach it?” Those questions don’t even seem to be on Hacker’s radar.
I certainly think every student should have algebraic experience and fluency in some sense, but we definitely need to reconsider the idea that working through systems of 3 linear inequalities is an essential component of a mathematical education.
It occurs to me more and more that programming and science are the best places to utilize and manipulate algebraic expression, so it should be reconsidered, how algebra should be learned and experienced by our students