Advocacy: Let’s Work Together

  • Advocacy: Let’s Work Together

    Advocacy: Let’s Work Together

    March 2019

    In my first President’s Message, Together We Move Forward, I stated that as NCTM President I intend to “…Become more visible with NCTM’s advocacy in mathematics education. I would like to continue NCTM’s political advocacy and expand it to include social advocacy that acknowledges mathematics teaching and learning are framed and affected by social and cultural histories and contexts.” Much of my advocacy work has been primarily in social and community spaces because I recognize that education is not divorced from politics. As educators we must engage in political advocacy to improve the conditions of education and to provoke structural changes to those policies and practices of schooling that exacerbate inequities within society.

    In February, many members of the NCTM Board of Directors and I visited Capitol Hill to meet with the offices of Members of Congress to introduce the work of NCTM, to share key educational issues and the impact they have, and to build relationships. During the visits, we made connections with the educational staffers and shared stories of the positive impacts that policies have had in their schools, districts, universities, and states and of the challenges that still exist. NCTM Board members shared how Title II-A and Title IV-A under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Teacher Quality Partnership program and TEACH Grants that are found in the Higher Education Act (HEA) are important for supporting teaching and learning.

    • Title II of the HEA emphasizes strengthening the clinical components of preparation programs and ensuring that all candidates are prepared to teach students with special needs or English language learners. The HEA authorizes TEACH Grants of $4,000 per year to students who agree to teach for four years at a qualifying elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students.
    • Title II, Part A of ESSA is authorized to help schools and districts improve teacher and principal quality for the purpose of increasing the academic achievement of all students. This includes teacher preparation and qualifications of new teachers, recruitment and hiring, induction, professional development, and retention.
    • Title IV, Part A of ESSA authorizes activities in three broad areas:
      1. Providing students with a well-rounded education, including programs such as college and career counseling, STEM, arts, civics, and International Baccalaureate/Advanced Placement.
      2. Supporting the safety and health of students with programs for comprehensive school mental health, for prevention of drug use and violence, for teacher training on trauma-informed practices, and health and physical education
      3. Supporting the effective use of technology that is backed by professional development, blended learning, and education technology devices.

    I visited the offices of my Members of Congress: Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Mark Warner, and Representative Denver Riggleman (5th District of Virginia). I discussed the importance of investing in teacher professional development, supporting teacher preparation programs, and initiatives NCTM has taken to support mathematics teaching and learning within the broader STEM space. I shared stories of teachers who received TEACH Grants and because of that support, were able to fulfill their goal of being teachers. I spoke about the critical challenges addressed in Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations to ensure that each and every student has the mathematical experiences necessary for future personal and professional success. Overall, the educational staffers were receptive toward supporting teachers and students as well as open to continuing the conversations to address the challenges that impact teaching and learning.

    It is important that NCTM and its members speak up and draw attention to important issues that impact education and to leverage our experience and expertise in mathematics and STEM education in guiding decision makers toward solutions grounded in research and practice. On March 11, I issued a statement in response to the Administration’s fiscal year 2020 proposed budget which threatens to eliminate many federal investments in education, including the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Programs of HEA, and Title II-A and Title IV-A of ESSA. In fiscal years 2019 and 2018, similar budget proposals were made by the Administration, but Congress appropriated funding for critical investments in education. For fiscal year 2020, I urge Congress to authorize the same level or increased funding for education.

    I want to invite the NCTM membership and all stakeholders to actively engage their Members of Congress to support funding for professional development, teacher preparation, classroom instruction, and the many other programs, services, and expertise that nurture teaching and learning. In order to engage your Members of Congress, I encourage you to review the list below:

    • Identify your Members of Congress. Use this resource, which connects you to their websites, and see what Committees they are on and their positions on education issues.
    • Follow your Members of Congress on social media. Members of Congress use social media to inform their constituents on their activities.
    • Review the NCTM 2019 Legislative Update.
    • Read a few Capitol Reports to get the latest on happenings on the Hill.
    • Utilize NCTM’s Advocacy Toolkit, which includes the basic tools to act on behalf of teachers on issues that affect you, your students, our schools, and mathematics education.
    • Work to find a compelling story from your school, district, or state that highlights a need or use of a specific program.
    • Many Members of Congress have local offices, and you can find the addresses on their congressional web pages. If possible, visit the local offices of your Members of Congress to tell your compelling story and to explain how a particular problem or issue is affecting a particular group or organization.
    • Or call or email the offices of your Members of Congress to tell your compelling story and to explain how a particular problem or issue is affecting a particular group or organization.
    • After making your contact with the offices of your Members of Congress, I encourage you to use Twitter to tweet out about your contact using #NCTMontheHill. Feel free to tag me on your tweet @robertqberry.

    Advocacy is part of NCTM’s Strategic Framework. Let’s work together to focus, raise awareness, and influence decision makers and the public on issues concerning high-quality mathematics teaching and learning.

    Robert Q. Berry III

    NCTM President

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    Tony Spark - 6/15/2020 4:29:06 AM


    <a href="" style="color:white">hello</a>

    Henry Kranendonk - 3/18/2019 6:10:46 PM

    Wow - I am excited and proud of NCTM's advocacy in these areas.  Teaching is important on so many fronts, but its status in our country seems to be a low priority.  Support for teachers, support for improving teacher education, and support for students' learning are important for country.  Thank you for taking this on, and thanks to the Board for their support and advocacy.  Continue to let us know how we can support this effort.  And yes, my Congressman, and my Senators will hear from me!

    Robert Berry - 3/19/2019 8:37:11 AM

    Henry, Thank you so much for your support. I agree that we must advocate and support teachers, teacher education, and learning to ensure that each and every person has access to high-quality mathematics. 

    John Plencner - 3/18/2019 6:04:45 PM

     Robert - An issue that I believe needs to be addressed is the remediation of skills missed in earlier grades.  By the time I see students in high school, most are missing from a few to many critical skills.  I believe that if we are going to address the issues in high school math, we first need to ensure that we are not sending students to high school that lack essential skills that they need to be successful.  For example, at least half of my incoming freshmen are somewhere between uncomfortable with and scared to death of fractions.  We need systems in place to identify, track, and remediate shortfalls in mathematics.

    I recently became aquainted with the Georgia Numeracy Project.  It exemplifies what we need in place in order to address the issues in elementary mathematics.  It not only provides the diagnostics, it provides all of the rest of the pieces of the puzzle (such a s lesson plans).  It would be nice if Congress provided funding and incentives for the implementation of this and similar systems.

    On a bit of a different, but related track, it would be nice if we had some sort of greatly reduced price multi-subject teacher discount for membership.  From the comments I have read of My NCTM, there are certainly subjects that we (single subject teachers) can help the elementary teachers with.  However, being multi-subjected they are not likely to join the NCTM.  Somehow, we need to ge thtem aboard.

    Robert Berry - 3/19/2019 8:47:17 AM

    John, Thank you for the work you are doing with learners and your concerns that each and every learner should experience high-quality mathematics. Specific programs like the project menitioned in your post are decisions that happen at the state and local levels. 

    In April 2018 NCTM implemented a new membership model. We are engaged in learning about the promise and challenges of the new model. 

    Chris Wright - 3/18/2019 4:50:03 PM

    Thank you for committing to advocacy! As a member of NCTM and a math education/teacher preparation advocate, I wanted to make sure to bring to your attention the work being done to reauthorize HEA, particularly TEACH Grants. Last year, I worked as an Education Policy Fellow for the Committee on Education and the Workforce. There, I worked specifically to study and determine how to improve the TEACH Grant program. The Aim Higher Act of 2018, legislation put forth by Democrats in July, outlines these improvements. In the event that you continue to advocate regarding the preservation and improvement of this program, I would be very happy to provide assistance and insight, particularly as you work with offices of Members on the House Ed/Labor committee and Senate HELP committee.

    I have worked very hard on education policy and advocacy in the past few years, including by speaking to the NCTM On The Hill participants last year in DC. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. 


    Chris Wright

    Baltimore County Public Schools

    Robert Berry - 3/19/2019 8:27:17 AM

    Chris, Thank you so much for your insights. I would like to schedule a time with you to discuss the reauthorization of HEA and the kind of work NCTM can do support TEACH Grants. I will send you an email soon to schedule a time.

    Francis (Skip) Fennell - 3/18/2019 8:41:18 PM

    Chris and Robert,

    Robert, I think Chris and his experience should be helpful to the Council in continuing advocacy and policy connections on a REGULAR basis.  Chris' advocacy experiences and connection with "on the ground" mathematics teacher education should be most helpful to NCTM and mathematics education, in general. 

    Skip Fennell

    Robert Berry - 3/19/2019 9:24:15 AM

    Thanks Skip. I will definitely connect with Chris.