Equity Committee Survey Results Part II: Current Issues in Equity and Recommendations for Action Steps

Maria del Rosario Zavala, San Francisco State Univ., Nicole Joseph, Vanderbilt Univ., & Crystal Kalinec-Craig, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio

In 2019, the AMTE Equity Committee conducted a survey of AMTE members regarding their thoughts on the intersection of equity and mathematics (teacher) education. There have been a number of Connections articles focusing on the results of this survey (see Edwards et al., 2020; LopezLeiva et al., 2020; Suazo-Flores et al., 2020). For this article, we continue the reporting of Suazo-Flores et al. (2020) and present data from responses to two open-ended questions: “What are some current equity issues or problems in Mathematics Teacher Education that you think deserve immediate attention?” and “What areas or aspects of equity in mathematics education should AMTE take leadership in?” Open coding analysis of the data revealed at least five major themes related to these survey questions, including: 1) recruitment and retention of teachers of color; 2) expansion of mathematics teacher educators (MTEs) and prospective teachers’ (PTs) various knowledge bases of content and equitable practices; 3) need for resources (e.g., financial, professional development opportunities); 4) inconsistency and need for revising the relevancy of teacher preparation programs so PTs can meet the needs of today’s students, teachers, and communities; and 5) organize and work on systemic issues. The sections below unpack the five themes and offer anonymized quotes from the survey respondents (in no particular order). The themes also include some citations for example references for members seeking more information[1]

  1. Recruitment and retention of teachers of color and first generation PTs are prominent concerns (e.g., Airton & Koecher; 2019; Darling-Hammond et al., 2019; Irizarry, 2007; Kohli, 2009) Findings include: how praxis “gets in the way”; the cost of schooling/education, salaries, and cost of living; and competing agendas with other economic opportunities. Example quotes from members are:  

“The lack of people of color in our preservice teacher programs. The lack of inclusion for LGBTQ populations in our mathematics curricula.”

“Teacher recruitment has to be a priority to ensure that all students receive high quality mathematics instruction… If we as MTEs have a First Gen initiative [at our institutions], how might that translate into P-12 student success?”

  1. Increase the various knowledge bases of MTEs and PTs where they need improved understandings and practices (e.g., Adiredja, 2019; Gholson & Martin, 2014; Gomez, 2020; Gutierrez, 2013; Meyers, 2020; Paris, 2012; Rubel, 2016) MTEs described a desire to know more about practices that promote equity and how to employ those practices with students, families, and communities. These knowledge bases range from deeper knowledge about mathematics for social justice to political knowledge for navigating resistance to equity. Example quotes from members are:

“I think the professional development of MTEs to support MTs in equitable teaching - with a focus on race, identity, power, class, sexual orientation, and so on - deserves immediate attention.”

“Bringing up issues of equity, especially in conservative states and schools (universities and colleges, but especially public K-12 institutions) can lead to risky career status for teachers. What do we do if someone challenges us when we are asking students to work on their own biases? When we are reflecting critically on systems which maintain inequity? How do we protect our jobs so that we can keep doing the work? Guidance here would be really helpful.”

  1. Need for direction on accessible resources (e.g., AMTE, n.d.; Learning for Justice, n.d.; National Equity Project, n.d.). Findings related to resources include: financial issues, professional development opportunities, and creation of more open access for teachers to disseminate knowledge and practices. Example quotes from members are:

“There is not a ‘how to’ or an ‘equity for dummies’ book. Many times, I have wished for such a thing so I have a resource I can look to as a starting point. As academics we don't seem to write for someone who is entering a space which makes entering the conversation challenging. I recognize there is no easy way to do this, but a starting point would be wonderful.”

“We need exemplars that are accessible to PTs (and expressed in language accessible to a broad array of PTs and MTEs) that illustrate what it means to work toward some of the ambitious goals of equity-oriented teacher education... It is difficult for PTs or NTs (novice teacher) to envision what direct action would look like.”

  1. Address inconsistency and relevance of teacher preparation programs to meet the needs of today’s classrooms and social issues (e.g., Crespo et al., 2021; Sleeter & Owuor, 2011; Turner et al., 2012; Vilson, 2015). MTEs raised concerns about a focus on traditional teacher preparation programs and how the variation of teacher preparation programs more broadly can influence our knowledge and approach to addressing issues of equity. Example quotes from members are:

“The settings of teacher education programs in the U.S. are highly varied, which caused highly varied preparations of math teachers. For example, a teacher prepared in a k-8 program and a teacher prepared in a 6-12 program would have hugely different mathematical content knowledge, however, they might be teaching the same grades (6-8) at their schools. Their students would receive inequitable math instructions.”

“I don't think we have standards that all math teacher education must meet with regards to equity and even if we did, I'm not sure if all MTEs would be qualified to lead such learning. Would take work on the part of many to be successful. This is of critical importance.”

“I think that the field is overly concerned with teachers from traditional programs and tinkering with pre-service preparation. On the one hand, this makes sense as pre-service teachers in traditional programs are who most of us as MTEs work with... At the same time, my sense is most MTEs ignore alternative certification programs and pathways ....”

  1. Organize and work on systemic issues (e.g., Aguirre, Mayfield-Ingram & Martin, 2013; Battey & Leyva, 2016; Collins, 2004; Gregory & Mosely, 2004; Gutstein, 2006; Tatum, 2017; Wager & Stinton, 2012) The findings show a desire of AMTE members to have our organization work on larger systemic issues that affect MTEs, teacher preparation programs, and K-12 education. Example quotes from members are:

“Significant focus should be placed on the deprofessionalization of teachers and teacher educators. Anything else is equivalent to bailing water out of a sinking ship. We cannot hope to improve equity when large populations of the profession are not educated in schools of education.”

“I do think that mathematics history can be interrogated more thoroughly to shake entrenched ideas about for whom and by whom mathematics has been developed and in what ways mathematical knowledge has impacted the world. Clearly underrepresented students continue to be identified for opportunities at lower rates than others, including at the college level.”

“The exclusion of MTEs from diverse backgrounds (ethnicities, institutions, stages in the academic career) in MTE publications. It's frequently the same authors being published in multiple outlets and most authors' work being rejected.”

“We cannot keep doing research on what effective teaching is or preparing math teachers to be ‘effective teachers’ according to our models, while not working to change how mathematics instruction happens in schools. We, the mathematics education research community, must put a strong effort into understanding cultural change in mathematics instruction in school buildings and districts, not only individual teachers.”

“How do we build consensus for untracking our math students that has become entrenched so heavily in our current system?”

Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, we believe that the survey responses generated a wide range of issues for the AMTE organization and its members to consider and act upon in various spaces. In moving forward, we recommend the following action items for consideration by the organization and its members when addressing the concerns of AMTE membership with respect to issues of equity:

  • Build and strengthen learning communities where members can open spaces for more participation as they develop ideas about equity and mathematics (teacher) education. This can include revisiting existing materials (e.g., Cases for Mathematics Teacher Education [White et al., 2016]; AMTE’s Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics; AMTE’s Podcasts) as a springboard for smaller learning groups of MTEs to facilitate discussion and promote ideas in their practice;
  • Develop more understandings about building relationships with students, families, and communities;
  • Name, intercept, and dismantle systems/structures of white supremacy (e.g., inequitable representation; limited inclusion of indigenous knowledge; overvalue of capitalism in schooling; and the harm of colorblindness in education);
  • Explore, infiltrate, and influence how big textbook companies create their curricula, so that they do not reproduce bias or stereotypes and are more representative of our students; Encourage textbook publishers to reimagine their work as partners in mathematics teacher education (e.g., invite representative(s) to an AMTE-sponsored podcast to discuss their work in moving forward with addressing issues of equity); Engage in a critical curriculum analysis, and create spaces for teachers to advocate for relevant and responsive materials that meet the needs of students;
  • Find ways to divide the labor among community stakeholders (e.g., PK-12 teachers, MTEs); Find ways to disrupt the cycle of “I’m too busy”, and demand more time for teachers to engage in these complex, systemic ideas of (in)equity; and
  • Explore the National Equity Project “Liberatory Equity Deck” and other resources as ways of engaging in discussion about equity and justice.   

As AMTE members continue to build collective understanding of what equity is and can be, we have shared here the various needs expressed by our membership in order to continue to learn about equity. Similar to the “Equity Committee Conversation Corner” (EC3) piece in the Connections Winter 2020 issue, our themes show that there is a concern with getting the “right” resources to learn to “do” equity better (e.g., examples, curriculum, support for unique and different situations both MTEs and teachers face). We are encouraged by the urgency expressed in what members have asked for, and wonder if in a sprint for resources we might unintentionally ignore the importance of critically evaluating our own stances, identities, and ways we as MTEs are complicit in upholding inequitable mathematics education systems. Alongside a push for resources, we also see a need for time and space to critically reflect and analyze what we bring to our instruction as MTEs, and what we model for our PTs. We look forward to hosting discussions at future AMTE conferences regarding the ideas presented in this article and related topics.


Adiredja, A. P. (2019). Anti-deficit narratives: Engaging the politics of research on mathematical sense making. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education50(4), 401-435.

Aguirre, J. Mayfield-Ingram, K., & Martin, D. (2013). The Impact of Identity in K-8 Mathematics Learning and Teaching: Rethinking Equity-based Practices. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Airton, L., & Koecher, A. (2019). How to hit a moving target: 35 years of gender and sexual diversity in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 80, 190-204. https://www.gcedclearinghouse.org/sites/default/files/resources/190441eng.pdf

Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE). (n.d.). AMTE Webinars. AMTE. https://amte.net/webinars.

Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE). (2021). Equity Committee. AMTE. https://amte.net/content/equity-committee-0#Equity.

Battey, D. & Leyva, L. (2016). A framework for understanding whiteness in mathematics education. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 9(2), 49–80.

Collins, P. H. (2009). Another kind of public education: Race, schools, the media, and democratic possibilities. Beacon Press.

Crespo, S., Bowen, D., Buli, T., Bannister, N., & Kalinec- Craig, C. (2021). Supporting Prospective Teachers to Notice and Name Student Language Resources as Mathematical Strengths. ZDM.

Darling-Hammond, L., Oakes, J., Wojcikiewicz, S., Hyler, M. E., Guha, R., & Podolsky, A. (2019). Preparing teachers for deeper learning. Harvard Education Press Cambridge, MA.

Edwards, B., Stoehr, K., & AMTE Equity Committee. (2020). Providing opportunities for teacher candidates to understand power, privilege, and oppression. Connections. https://amte.net/connections/2020/08/providing-opportunities-teacher-can....

Gomez, N. (2020, November 5). Nico Gomez: Foregrounding Issues and Questions to Work on Our Identity. Teaching Math Teaching Podcast. https://www.teachingmathteachingpodcast.com/33.

Gholson, M., L., & Martin, D. B. (2014). Smart girls, Black girls, Mean girls, and bullies: At the intersection of identities and the mediating role of young girls' social network in mathematical communities of practice. Journal of Education, 194(1), 19-33.

Gregory, A., & Mosely, P.M. (2004). The discipline gap: Teachers' views on the over-representation of Black students in the discipline system. Equity and Excellence in Education. 37, 18–30.

Gomez, N. (2020, November 5). Nico Gomez: Foregrounding Issues and Questions to Work on Our Identity. Teaching Math Teaching Podcast. https://www.teachingmathteachingpodcast.com/33.

Gutiérrez, R. (2013). The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education44(1), 37-68.

Gutstein, E. (2006). Reading and writing the world with mathematics: Toward a pedagogy for social justice. Routledge.

Irizarry, J. G. (2007). "Home-growing" Teachers of Color: Lessons learned from a town-gown partnership. Teacher Education Quarterly, 34(4), 87-102.

Kohli, R. (2009). Critical race reflections: Valuing the experiences of Teachers of Color in teacher education. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 12(2), 235-251.

Learning for Justice. (n.d.). Professional Development. Learning for Justice. https://www.learningforjustice.org/professional-development. 

LopezLeiva, C., & AMTE Equity Committee. (2020). What's equity? What do AMTE members say it is? Connections. https://amte.net/connections/2020/08/whats-equity-what-do-amte-members-s....

Meyers, M. (2020, December 10). Marrielle Myers: Supporting Preservice Teachers of Color. Teaching Math Teaching Podcast. https://www.teachingmathteachingpodcast.com/37.

National Equity Project. (n.d.). Liberatory Design. National Equity Project. https://www.nationalequityproject.org/frameworks/liberatory-design.

Paris, D. (2012). Culturally sustaining pedagogy: A needed change in stance, terminology, and practice. Educational Researcher,41(3), 93-97.

Sleeter, C. E., & Owuor, J. (2011). Research on the impact of teacher preparation to teach diverse students: The research we have and the research we need. Action in Teacher Education33(5-6), 524-536.

Suazo-Flores, E., Stoehr, K., Fernandes, A., & AMTE Equity Committee. (2020). Mathematics teacher educators’ conceptualizations of equity. Connections. https://amte.net/connections/2020/11/mathematics-teacher-educators%E2%80....

Turner, E., Drake, C., Roth McDuffie, A., Aguirre, J., Bartell, T. G., & Foote, M. Q. (2012). Promoting equity in mathematics teacher preparation: A framework for advancing teacher learning of children's multiple matheamtics knowledge bases. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 15(1), 67-82.

Vilson, J. L. (2015). The Need for More Teachers of Color. American Educator39(2), 27-31.

Wager, A. A., & Stinson, D. W. (Eds.). (2012). Teaching mathematics for social justice: Conversations with educators. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

White, D. Y., Crespo, S., & Civil, M. (Eds.). (2016). Cases for mathematics teacher educators: Facilitating conversations about inequities in mathematics classrooms. IAP.

[1] The example citations included are by no means an exhaustive list. The Equity Committee encourages members to review our scholarly reference list at https://amte.net/content/equity-committee-0#Equity and help us to revise it as new publications become available.