Posted on October 7, 2022

National Math Conference Trains Teachers to Push Anti-Racism, Social Justice in Classrooms

Caroline Downey, National Review, September 29, 2022


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was woven into this year’s convention of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), which boasts 30,000 members and calls itself “the premiere mathematics education leadership organization.” During the conference, which concluded Wednesday, teachers were instructed at every turn to incorporate the tenets of DEI into math instruction in their K-12 classrooms, according to conference materials reviewed by National Review.


Of the 179 sessions offered, 28 included in their promotional descriptions the word “equity,” seven included “diverse,” seven used “systemic,” six used “social justice,” five used “marginalized,” three included “bias,” two used “antiracist,” and one used “oppressive.”

Two workshops focused on black people specifically, with one honing in on “disruptions in the Black STEM teacher pipeline.” Another workshop was titled, “Making Black Girls Count in Mathematics Education: A Black Feminist Vision of Transformative Teaching.”

“Much is lost when we do not politicize Black girls’ math education. Centering Black girls as knowledge producers through a critical analysis of their experiences is necessary,” Nicole Joseph, an associate professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University, wrote in her pitch to attendees.

In another session, called “Transcend Awareness of Social Justice – Take Action!,” presenters told teachers to explore a social justice “toolkit,” which includes implicit bias/racism role play exercises to be used in classrooms.

Teachers were encouraged to adopt “disruptive leadership” in another session and provide “Social Justice Mathematics Lessons” to students.


The NCSM’s was not the only progressive national math conference this week. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference began Wednesday and features hundreds of sessions on similar topics.

The program book for the NCTM conference, also located in Los Angeles, lists seven “focus strands” that sessions fall into, four of which involve either anti-racism, equity, or social-emotional learning, which is regarded by its opponents as a means to infuse formerly apolitical curricula with critical race and gender theory.

According to the NCSM program book, the sessions are designed to instruct teachers in how best to be “antiracist; nurture students’ positive mathematical identities, disrupt systems of oppression by challenging spaces of marginality and privilege within classrooms; respond to and sustain students’ cultural and linguistic resources, and foster all students’ mathematical agency, belonging, and joy.”

{snip} Another session explains the project of five first-year teachers to “humanize math instruction” through “restorative justice.”