In 2005, the NCTM Research Committee devoted its commentary to exploring how mathematics education research might contribute to a better understanding of equity in school mathematics education (Gutstein et al., 2005). In that commentary, the concept of equity included both conditions and outcomes of learning. Although multiple definitions of equity exist, the authors of that commentary expressed it this way: “The main issue for us is how mathematics education research can contribute to understanding the causes and effects of inequity, as well as the strategies that effectively reduce undesirable inequities of experience and achievement in mathematics education” (p. 94). That research commentary brought to the foreground important questions one might ask about equity in school mathematics and some of the complexities associated with doing that work. It also addressed how mathematics education researchers (MERs) could bring a “critical equity lens” (p. 95, hereafter referred to as an “equity lens”) to the research they do. Fast forward 10 years to now: Where is the mathematics education researcher (MER) community in terms of including an equity lens in mathematics education research? Gutiérrez (2010/2013) argued that a sociopolitical turn in mathematics education enables us to ask and answer harder, more complex questions that include issues of identity, agency, power, and sociocultural and political contexts of mathematics, learning, and teaching. A sociopolitical approach allows us to see the historical legacy of mathematics as a tool of oppression as well as a product of our humanity.
Julia Aguirre, Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis, Marta Civil, Trena Wilkerson, Michelle Stephan, Stephen Pape and Douglas H. Clements
Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis, Lunney Lisa Borden, Stephen J. Pape, Douglas H. Clements, Susan A. Peters, Joshua R. Males, Olive Chapman and Jacqueline Leonard
In July 2017, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) released a new mission statement that shifts the organization's primary focus to supporting and advocating for the highest quality mathematics teaching and learning for all students. A key strategy for achieving this goal is to advance “a culture of equity where each and every person has access to high quality teaching and is empowered as a learner and doer of mathematics” (NCTM, 2017, “Strategic Framework,” para. 2). Increasing equity and ensuring the highest quality mathematics teaching and learning for all students requires systemic change (National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics [NCSM] & TODOS: Mathematics for ALL, 2016). As educators are called to enact NCTM's new mission, we acknowledge that such change is complex. We also acknowledge that our own experiences conducting equity work that is grounded in an asset-based approach are at different stages of development, ranging from beginning levels to lived experiences as diverse mathematics learners and mathematics education researchers. We see this change in mission as a call to both act politically (Aguirre et al., 2017) and to change story lines (i.e., “broad, culturally shared narrative[s]”; Herbel-Eisenmann et al., 2016, p. 104) that dominate the public perception of mathematics learning and teaching. We acknowledge that systemic barriers are part of a larger educational issue, but for the purposes of this commentary, we focus on mathematics.