In my district, and many others, Algebra II is a graduation requirement. Given that requirement, I find myself asking what life skills the class can give everyone, whether they continue to practice mathematics or not—and not just from math class in general, but specifically from Algebra II.
For example, an oft-quoted justification for requiring geometry is to teach students to “think logically”. In the 1930′s, Harold Fawcett taught a geometry class in which students learned, and practiced, thinking logically in non-mathematical contexts.
One thing a great context / question also gives you is the experience of figuring out what information is important and what sort of abstraction is most useful for extracting and using the right information thoughtfully. And that’s a skill a lot more adults will use than factoring …
If that’s to be our transferable skill, then we’ll need to practice it: have lots of non-mathematical examples where “extracting and using the right information thoughtfully” is required. And I have to admit: I’m so unconscious of when and how I am using this skill I’m not at all sure how to begin thinking of examples!