Advocacy: Let’s Work Together
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.
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:
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