In the past most people ignored how to read and write. Scribes were upper class people able to help them handling documents and letters, for money of course.

Fortunately the obligatory school system has elevated the skills of most people regarding reading and writing so that scribes are no longer necessary. This represents a huge empowering of people, and actually has allowed the emergence of democratic societies. People can read by themselves and *think*: societies then count millions of thinkers instead of a few hundreds, that's a huge progress. In modern societies people lacking such an education are called illiterate, and are considered as handicapped.

A similar concept applies when dealing with quantities and numbers. Nowadays even well educated scholars may struggle with numbers, innumeracy is actually widespread. For many journalists millions and billions seem synonyms. The innumeracy neologism was invented by John Allen Paulos, who in 1988 wrote the book "Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences", a recommended reading. Innumeracy is endemic and actually handicaps many aspects of common life, starting with mastering the house budget. The insufficient proficiency regarding quantities and numbers then leads to more difficulties when dealing with higher math, like algebra and calculus.

In my opinion, the problem with math education is not algebra or calculus, but the insufficient mastering of the elementary math levels, starting with arithmetic. Statistics and probability are in no way simpler conceptually than algebra and calculus. Lowering the general math level has for effect of preventing people to be empowered by math. Since US students already under-perform at the international level, I would say the proposition to reduce math education is a sure recipe to weaken the country on the long term.