Year of the Snake (also, Statistics…but not Algebra)

My credit for links is beginning to go downhill, I blame the baby thing.  When I find good links, I leave the page open in Chrome, but don’t often leave the source open as well.  No one told me having a child would cause my internet etiquette to go so precipitously downhill.

All that to say, I have no idea where I saw this, but apparently 2013 has been declared The International Year of Statistics.  
Sadly, none of the events are in my neck of the woods, but still fun to know about.  
It also brought to mind this NYT Op-Ed piece about the necessity of algebra.  I’m a bit tardy in bringing it up, as there have been quite a few good responses to it already, but I wanted to throw my two cents in.  
Andrew Hacker argues that algebra and other current math standards are impractical and unfairly hold back people who aren’t good at math.  My first reaction was annoyance.  No one would ever argue that someone deserved to graduate high school without being able to read, no matter how much they excelled at math….and yet here someone is essentially arguing the reverse.  
When I took a deep breath however, it occurred to me that the last thing I want to do is defend the way math is taught to most high schoolers.  For many people, a course on functional statistics and/or financial math would be more useful, practical, and most likely easier to learn and remember.  If we’re headed that direction, there’s probably very few subjects taught in high school that couldn’t be improved with a little more practicality and a little less theory. 
To get back to the start of the post, I wouldn’t mind seeing algebra replaced with more statistical teaching….though large scale public understanding of stats and research methods might leave me with fewer things to blog about.