In his December 2016 note to members, NCTM president Matt Larson reminds us that NCTM serves as our advocate in Washington DC. This advocacy often happens behind the scenes and is critical to the success of teachers and students in mathematics classrooms across the nation. The NCTM Board of Directors approves a legislative platform each year and uses it to reach out to members of congress or the president’s administration. Their message is clear – supporting teachers and students in PK-12 classrooms is necessary for the success of our nation and that mathematics is a critical component of this education. While the conferences and teacher resources are the public face of NCTM, this advocacy work is just as important. (Read Larson’s entire note at: https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/Advocacy_-The-“Unseen”-Work-of-NCTM/).
In Iowa, ICTM is your advocate. Newsletters contains summaries of legislative actions in Des Moines that might affect the work you do in mathematics classrooms or in teacher preparation. We reach out to the Department of Education’s mathematics consultant, April Pforts to keep you updated on professional development opportunities and changes in policies you might need to adopt. This is one face of our advocacy.
Political advocacy is more challenging. We have plans in place to alert members about bills discussed in the Iowa legislature that could challenge your teaching of mathematics for understanding. Most of the legislation in Iowa addresses PK-12 education in general and is in the news frequently, so we do not send you notes about that. Instead, we refer to NCTM’s position statements, which reflect what is needed for teachers to implement what is known as best or research-based teaching practices when looking at bills and state policies. I encourage you to read the position statements that are relevant to your work (http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/NCTM-Position-Statements/) as they might provide you talking points to use locally should controversy arise about how you update your mathematics teaching practice.
“To be effective and to have the kind of impact we want at the national, state, and local levels, we rely in large part on the actions of individual advocates” (Larsen, 2016). This is true locally as well. Know that NCTM and ICTM will continue to advocate for you, your students and our profession. Since elected officials pay the most attention to their constituents, your voice counts. Refer to NCTM’s position statements (http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/NCTM-Position-Statements/) and tips for advocacy (http://www.nctm.org/ Research-and-Advocacy/advocacy-toolkit/) when contacting your federal and state legislators about what is needed in your classroom for students to have success. Together, we can strive for mathematics education for all.
Public feedback on the second draft of Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ended on August 17. That said, there is an online survey available for citizens which we can still use to answer questions regarding what is needed for the next version. If you want to participate in this survey, you can find it at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PLJKVDV.
In federal government related news, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) is likely to end in the near future. This allows young people who were brought to the United States as undocumented children to work and study in two-year, renewable terms. This will affect some of the students you teach, as their ability to study and work in the US will be limited. When Iowa’s legislative session begins early in 2018, there will be more to report. In the meantime, think about advocating for your profession and how ICTM can help.
-Catherine M. Miller
· Iowa Department of Education. (2017). Iowa’s Draft ESSA Plan. Retrieved on September 1, 2017 from https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/every-student-succeeds-act.
· Larson, Matt. (2016). Advocacy: The Unseen Work of NCTM. Retrieved on February 2, 2017 from https://www.nctm.org/News-and-Calendar/Messages-from-the-President/Archive/Matt-Larson/Advocacy_-The-%E2%80%9CUnseen%E2%80%9D-Work-of-NCTM/.