- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Recently while visiting a Mexican friend in Guadalajara, I glanced at her daughter’s biology textbook. The young lady is 14 and in the eighth grade, and goes to a public school. Her family is not rich, and neither is the school. Mexico is not usually regarded as an international leader in secondary education, and in fact isn’t.

The following is from her textbook, Biologia 2. The translation is mine.

“DNA is formed by the union of five atoms: carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P).

“The DNA molecule can be decomposed into the monomers that form it. These are called nucleotides, each of which contains three parts: a sugar of five carbons, deoxyribose; a phosphate; and a nitrogenous base, either adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), or thymine (T).

“Two of these bases, adenine and guanine, are structures of two rings and are called purines, while the other two, thymine and cytosine, have only one ring and are called pyrimidines.”

Pardon the technoglop, but I want to make a point.

Do students downtown in Chicago, New York and Washington know what endocytosis is? My daughters recently passed through the schools of Arlington. They came home with misspelled science handouts and dismal make-work projects. Here I’m talking about high school. I saw kids in Arlington who had trouble with the multiplication tables.

Biologia 2 has a 31-page, purely scientific section on human reproduction. The coverage is detailed and complete, with detailed discussion of meiosis as compared with mitosis, primary meiotic division, secondary division with prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase nicely laid out.

The book contains no indoctrination or political correctness.

From the daughter’s Matematicas 2: “Consider two urns, one with 13 balls numbered from 1 to 13, and the other with four balls marked with the following figures: a red triangle, a red square, a black circle, or a black rhombus. How many combinations can be obtained by drawing one ball from each urn?

“The possibilities can be represented by ordered pairs. For example, if from the first urn is drawn the ball marked with 2, and from the second, the ball with the square, the result is expressed thus: (2, square).The 52 pairs listed in the column to the left represent all possibilities. … The probability of drawing an even number from the first urn is P(even) = 6/13 and the probability of drawing a red shape from the second urn is P(red) = 2/4 = ?. If the two probabilities are multiplied, the following is the result: P(even) P(red) = (6/13)(1/2) = 6/26.”

Are we are as far ahead of the Third World as we think?

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