Filling the tank will take math skills | SierraSun.com

Filling the tank will take math skills

Jamie Bate
Editor's Notebook

You know things are getting bad when fuel for your vehicle could well become more valuable than that huge lotto jackpot.

Beyond being an interesting commentary on the current economy, a state legislator had a novel idea to get more folks playing the California Lottery: Offer free gas for life as a prize.

Now before you run out and buy a bunch of quick picks to fund those future summer road trips, hold on. The bureaucracy is putting the kibosh on the idea before it gets legs.

State Lottery Director Joan Borucki told the L.A. Daily News that the state can’t afford the plan since the law only allows a certain amount of revenue to go to prizes.

But the way things are going ” toward $5-plus a gallon ” there’s no guarantee that gas won’t soon be worth more than cash itself.

From the “do as I say, not as I did (or didn’t do well)” file: Algebra.

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Looking way back to the days in junior high school and those dreaded math classes, my buddies and I definitely got off easy.

Last week, California became the first state in America to require all eighth-graders to take Algebra I. Currently, only half of eighth-graders study algebra, and less than 40 percent of those are proficient in it.

That’s the percentile you would have found me in back in the day. And that could explain why I edit a newspaper for a living.

The running joke for journalism school graduates is that they took up the cause because it didn’t have any math prerequisites. Maybe there is some truth in every joke.

Of course the truth is that in many other nations with advanced economies, students take Algebra I at the equivalent of middle school. We could laugh that one off if the dollar wasn’t getting clobbered right now by pretty much every currency out there.

So while we try to catch up to the Europeans and their $10-a-gallon gas and their brainy students, we might as well bone up on our math. Because if we can’t win free fuel for life, it’ll take a statistician to compute how much it’s going to cost to fill up our cars.