There have certainly been throughout History extremely valuable people that never mastered Algebra, and we should not be denying access to college-level education to Algegra dropouts.
That said, there is no way in heck I'm letting my daughter go through high school without Algebra, even if it means me staying home to tutor her. As a nation we are starved for STEM graduates, regardless of that bogus stat the author provides. (Why only list the unemployment rate for those with no experience, and why in a recession year? Why not mention that STEM graduates make way more money than the average non-STEM graduate? Have we repealed the law of supply and demand?)
The typical New York Times writer sees the World through the prism of "What Should WE do?", as if in a modern globalized civilization we could discover a one-size-fits-all set of requirements to optimally benefit the collective.