Steve Viktora, Central 1 Regional Director
As I near the end of my Board term, I reflect on the activities of NCSM over the last three years. Not to underestimate the importance of our conferences, leadership academies, journals, newsletters, and position papers, for example, one has to consider the release of the PRIME Leadership Framework as one of the most significant successes of that time period. This document, one that outlines what "ought to happen," has the potential to have a significant impact on mathematics education in the United States.
When I discuss this document with others educators, both within and outside the mathematics community, my short "elevator" description always includes a statement that one would expect such a document to focus on curriculum, teaching and learning, and assessment. Most people expect the document to provide a forward-looking framework in these areas, but many are somewhat surprised that the first principle is equity.
The equity principle challenges us to provide all of our students with the opportunity to learn significant mathematics by focusing on high expectations for all students, strong intervention and support for all students, and ensuring continuous growth in achievement. Just before writing this article I attended a two-day seminar on diversity and eliminating racial achievement differences, and the experience helped me to focus again on the message of PRIME. The organization that sponsored this seminar concentrated on the (racial) achievement gap, but, as Douglas Reeves points out in The Learning Leader (2006), "A growing body of research makes it clear that poverty and ethnicity are not the primary causal variables related to student achievement ... leadership, teaching and adult actions matter." Racism, no doubt, is a major part of the problem, but the PRIME framework asks us to reframe inequity, to use the words of Alfinio Flores, as an "opportunity gap" instead of an "achievement gap" (Examining Disparities in Mathematics Education: Achievement Gap or Opportunity Gap? The High School Journal - Volume 91, Number 1, October-November 2007, pp29-42). When we talk of an achievement gap, there is almost a sense of blaming the student.
We have the opportunity to make a difference for our students, a responsibility that we must not shirk. The next Regional Director for C1, Valerie Mills, wrote in the NCSM Winter Newsletter 2009 of the responsibility of leaders in mathematics education to make sure that we educate all of our students. As she writes, "I will work to ensure that opportunities to promote equity are visible and integrated throughout the ongoing work of the Council." We must all take on this charge; this is our work as well.
I congratulate Valerie on her election as the new director, and I wish her good luck in her work. I also wish to thank the members of the C1 region for giving me the opportunity to represent you during the last three years.
Finally, be sure to browse through our regional calendar for new postings of events beginning in April 2010. There is at least one event for almost every month through August including the NCSM Annual Conference in San Diego (April 19-21); and the NCSM Leadership Academy in our backyard, Aurora Illinois (June 15-18), in Houston Texas (June 22-25), and in New York, New York (August 16-19).