Aug 272017

I have been collecting links related to Equity and Social Justice in Mathematics. I need to get them out of my Diigo, and into someplace more public where I can use them better.

I am stunned by how many I have. Clearly, this topic is one that mathematics professionals are discussing and writing about. Communicating this to educators who are not aware of the breadth and depth of the conversation is why I am posting these.

***I know I am missing many! Please add them in the comments. Please!***

Mathematics organizations’ official positions

  1. NCTM position statement on Access and Equity April 2014
  2. NCTM position statement on Closing the Opportunity Gap February 2012
  3. NCTM position statement on High Expectations July 2016
  4. NCTM post on Response to Charlottesville (n.d. listed) but published August 2017
  5. NCSM and TODOS: Mathematics for All, position statement on Math through the lens of social justice (PDF) Not dated, but published 2016
  6. AMTE (Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators) position statement on Equity in Mathematics Teacher Education November 2015
  7. The MAA (Mathematics Association of America) has 3 standing committees for the topic of underrepresented groups in mathematics
  8. The AMS (American Mathematical Society) has multiple program for underrepresented groups in mathematics

Blog posts from other mathematics organizations

  1. The AMS post on Discussing Justice on the first day of class (17 August 2017)
  2. The AMS has a blog dedicated to underrepresented groups in mathematics: inclusion/exclusion
  3. The Math Ed Matters blog of the AMS has a post on Equity in Mathematics with more links. 29 February 2016

Journals whose content is focused on Equity and / or Justice, or important articles

  1. TODOS: Mathematics for All, Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics (TEEM) Journal
  2. Journal for Urban Mathematics Education (JUME)
  3. Journal of Mathematics and Culture (sponsored by North American Study Group on Ethnomathematics, NASGEm)
  4. The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (current)
  5. The Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal (HMNJ, 1987-2004) See #9, which is the new journal.
  6. Marta Civil. (2006). Working towards equity in mathematics education (PDF article)
  7. Lawrence Lesser. (2007). Critical Values and Transforming Data: Teaching Statistics with Social Justice. (PDF article)

Sites or Organizations focused on Math Equity

  1. Benjamin Banneker Association, Inc (BBA)
  2. Women and Mathematics Education
  3. The Math Forum’s resources on Equity
  4. The Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP via MARS) TRU framework
  5. Math and Social Justice: A Collaborative MTBoS Site : This could be a very important site for these issues. How can we build it up?
  6. Twitter search for #TMCEquity hashtag

Non-Mathematics, but other education organizations

  1. The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) posted, There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times. This page has a thorough collection of resources which can be used across curriculums. 15 August 2017.
Aug 272017

I have been listening carefully lately whenever I hear the word “Equity” used by teachers. I haven’t engaged with these definitions, just listened to how the teachers are using the word so I can understand what they are saying. I am learning that we are not using the word in the same way at all.

When I think if equity, I think along the direction CMC does:

Equity via California Math Council via

The other day, I heard another definition that I had not encountered. The (paraphrased) quote was, “It is important that we think of equity in our classrooms, so that a B in one section with one teacher means the same thing if that student transfers to a different class in the same school or different school. We have to think of equity in our classrooms.”

The word ‘equity’ was specifically mentioned twice. The teacher meant to use the word.

I have a trouble reconciling this meaning of equity with the meanings outlined in the graphic above, unless we push it into “achievement.” But the text for ‘achievement’ doesn’t easily allow for this definition. The text is “What are some of my beliefs, expectations, behaviors and practices, and tools that ensure mathematics proficiency for every student?” Maybe, but it is not obvious where consistency in grading practices across teachers is an equity issue. It appears to me it may be more of an equality issue, not equity.

Clearly, equity is a term that needs to be given some additional context so we are speaking to the same topic.

My huge takeaway? Listen more and listen for understanding, not responding. I learn more that way.

Aug 082017

This question has been on my mind since I finished reviewer the submissions to the NCSM National Conference. This was my third year as a reviewer, and this year I noticed something very …. different. I was assigned 17 out of 18 articles in the “Equity” strand, so I read many submissions that were supposedly in the same strand. I say ‘supposedly’ because, in my opinion, they weren’t. Not at all.

Of the 17 submissions, four submissions were straight up, this is how you (as a teacher) differentiate instruction for learners with learning disabilities. Is this equity? I am not sure. I suggested they be moved to the instruction strand, because I do not consider a narrow focus on differentiation to be equity.

Another six submissions were about differentiation, but not narrowly focused. These submissions were about how to differentiate summative or formative assessments, or instruction, or discussion, so that all learners would have the opportunity to access the course content. These are more along what I consider equity, but I still have reservations.

The last group were very much in line with my idea of equity, and were concerning how to modify teacher practice to allow for under-represented groups to access course content at a high level.

These submissions challenged me to think about what is Equity in mathematics education.

After spending three days at TMC17 thinking and discussing Equity with Grace Chen as one of the leaders, I am still not convinced that the four submissions are about equity.

I think that addressing equity is more than a narrow focus on learners with disabilities, but must be a larger discussion about the inequities that exist in our classrooms. However, the IDEA was enacted because there were severe inequities in how special education learners were treated in classrooms.

But, is a narrow focus on special education learners equity?

I still say no.

Equity in the mathematics classroom is not about differentiation, but about teaching the content in such a way that each learner identifies with the content in such a way they are able to see themselves in the material. More importantly, the learner is then able to use the content in such a way that they take it and change their world with it. For example, in this AVID video, education is definitely something the learners here are using to change their world. 

This ideal of equity comes out of Freire and Gutstein’s ideas on equity. It is not focused specifically on a race or ethnicity, however this ideal does focus on giving learners who have been historically disenfranchised a connection with content they have been denied in the past.

Will all learners benefit from this? Sure. But learners who are from disenfranchised populations will benefit the most. They have been denied access to a curriculum for a long time, and gaining access to it in a way that will allow the learners to enact change is powerful.

This, to me, is what the definition of equity includes. It certainly is not an exhaustive definition, and I need to think and read more to expand it. It is my starting place, however. Give each learner the ability to connect with the mathematics content in such a way they can gain mastery over it and use the content to change their world.