With computers everywhere these days, how essential is it that Texas high school students master advanced algebra?  The Texas Education Agency is in the middle of that debate.


  1200 WOAI's Michael Board says the TEA is debating whether to require advanced algebra , so called Algebra Two, as a requirement for graduation.


  "The ones who oppose it are arguing that students should have more flexibility in selecting their courses," the TEA's Debbie Ratcliffe said.


  The debate comes after the Legislature passed a law relaxing the strict standards for graduation which have been in place for the last decade, hoping to give local districts the option of creating different course standards for students taking vocational as opposed to college prep courses.


  And many people think that Algebra Two should not be part of those requirements.


  "Most students won't need Algebra Two in whatever job they have when they're grown up," Ratcliffe said.


  16 states current require advanced algebra as a graduation requirement for all students.


  Even business groups are split on the issue.  The Texas Association of Business, which fought agaisnt the relaxed standards in the legislature, wants to mandate both Algebra Two and chemistry for all Texas public school graduates.  But another business group, called Texans for Job Creation, says Algebra Two is no longer necessary for the wide variety of jobs which are out there today.


  There is a call for advanced math courses which are more relevant to the daily requirements of most professions, like accounting and economic, as opposed to algebra.


  "The ones who support Algebra Two say most colleges require it, and it teaches kids how to think critically," Ratcliffe said.

  But others say it is fine if people who are on a college track which will require algebra to take it, but it should not be required for all students, and it takes up valuable time which could be spent teaching something that is more useful.