Companies Struggle to Find Workers in U.S. With Basic Math Skills

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that companies struggle to find workers in the U.S. who can do basic math. America's math illiteracy problem is confirmed by recent international math test scores. 

Asian students from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea and Japan ranked well above average on these math tests. They dominated the list compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. American students failed to reach the top 20 in math.

Tutors Turn Millionaires in Asia

Having spent time in several Asian countries over the years, I have learned a lot about why students from these countries excel in mathematics and related technical fields. A few years ago I started corresponding with Richard Eng – one of Hong Kong’s “celebrity tutors” turn millionaires! Mr. Eng operates several “tutorial schools” in Asia. He is essentially a tutoring rock star.

Tutorial schools are big business in Asia. There are hundreds of them in Hong Kong alone -- attended by approximately one third of all students. These students pay approximately US$130 a month to improve their grades in a society where knowledge is 

US Students Struggling

Many students struggle with math and need some extra support. However, they may not be able to afford to pay for extra math help or it may not be readily available. It would be great if all students around the world could afford to attend tutorial schools. However, in these dire economic times, that is not possible. Therefore, some students’ obstacles in learning mathematics grow more insurmountable with each successive year. Poor understanding of math prevents many students from pursuing their dream careers and also impairs other crucial skills - such as logical thinking and financial literacy.

The free online math tutoring I founded,, has been voted Top 50 Social Sites for Educators and Academics, Top 25 Useful Networking Sites for Grad Students, and Top 25 Savvy Social Media Sites for Grad Students. Thus far, students, teachers and parents have used to get free online tutors for grades K-12 and College math courses. 

Help with Math Homework

Now, we want to improve this prototype and expand our services - to promote math and financial literacy on a global scale. We are in the first phase of our Indiegogo free online math tutoring crowdfunding campaign. These funds will be utilized to completely revamp the prototype of our social platform -making it more attractive, easy to engage with and better suited for students from different age groups. In addition, some of the funds will be utilized to hire 24/7 online tutors to ensure that all posted math problems are solved in a timely manner

Our potential impact is HUGE. Our math tutor social network can be helpful to all K-College students living in the US and abroad, who attend public and private schools, are homeschooled, disabled, etc. That is over 80 million students in the US alone. Parents, teachers, guidance counselors, school administrators, and the general public can also engage and make use of our platform.

Iris Mack

In 2002 Iris founded Phat Math, Inc. in Miami, Florida - with the mission to help students overcome math anxiety and gain confidence. She grew up in inner city New Orleans. But with lots of hard work eventually earned a Harvard doctorate in Applied Mathematics and a London Business School MBA.


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