President's Message

Our hyper–politicized national environment continues to intersect with mathematics teacher education, and AMTE has consistently put forth a stance toward supporting diversity, equity, and empowerment. Aligned with the priorities for our association, this stance is present whether it be in our publications, when responding to the shifting national priorities, or as it relates to our national Annual Conference. Regarding publications, AMTE was at the center of a recent politically-motivated controversy when Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez’s chapter in the AMTE Professional Book Series, Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods, was unprofessionally attacked. Surrounding the unprofessional attack of her work, there were also vicious personal attacks. I believe we must stand together as mathematics educators against the tactics employed by those who do not consider the evidence available to us, and instead are driven by their political views to accept or reject ideas that they have not invested themselves in understanding. Those of us working to advance scholarly fields must ask ourselves whether these insidious tactics will lead to academicians feeling intimidated or silenced, possibly resulting in new scholars choosing against the pursuit of issues that become associated with controversy. AMTE stands united in support of all authors of AMTE’s publications who are committed to advancing learning by sharing a variety of perspectives, and as we stated in a recent press release, academic environments require the free flow of ideas, even when, at times, some ideas are uncomfortable.

The shifting national priorities are alarming, and AMTE has added its voice to that of other organizations in calling for policies that support, rather than inhibit, the pursuit of STEM fields and STEM education. We have been signatories on several letters this year to the administration in general or to the President of the United States in particular. For example, we signed a letter from the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) calling for the administration to support full funding for Title II-A. We signed a letter to the President of the United States strongly encouraging the nomination of highly qualified people to serve as Director and in other key roles in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). We also signed a letter drafted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) expressing concerns for White House proclamations on immigration and visas that imposed extreme vetting policies and additional constraints on some countries.

I also want to share great news: final preparations are underway for AMTE’s 2018 Conference in Houston, and reports indicate that the city in general and the conference-site hotel in particular have weathered Hurricane Harvey and are looking forward to hosting us! This brings me to a third way in which AMTE has responded to the politicized climate, which relates to our national conference. Earlier this year Texas passed House Bill 3859, making it legal for private agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ families wishing to adopt children or serve as foster parents. The AMTE Board decided that although it was too late to relocate the 2018 conference, we would take action to reflect our values, and we have reorganized the schedule for our opening day of the conference. Recognizing that AMTE attendees want to continue to enjoy sessions given by and for the AMTE members, the organizing committee has found a way to maintain the same number of presentation sessions as we have offered in previous years. However, we have also managed to offer two plenary sessions, one to start the day by addressing the intersection of LGBTQ+ issues and mathematics education and one immediately after lunch to address the AMTE Standards. We will end the day with an all-conference reception for conference attendees to learn about community organizations working in support of the local LGBTQ+ community and to relax and mingle. Special thanks to all who have been involved with organizing our conference in general and these special events in particular!

We are going to try something different this year at the end-of-conference business meeting, building upon AMTE’s new structure organized around Divisions. We will recognize outgoing and incoming committee members, but by acknowledging committees by Divisions, we hope to compress the announcements and recognition section of the meeting, thereby opening up space for a substantive conversation. Please come with your ideas for topics you would like to discuss during the second half of the business meeting, and we will collectively select one or more topics to brainstorm. What better place for future AMTE initiatives to emerge than from these conversations? 

Because this is the first year we are trying this discussion format, I will introduce an idea that emerged from conversations with colleagues. Might AMTE, in collaboration with NCTM and MAA, take the lead on developing an electronic textbook to support the content and pedagogical preparation of secondary school mathematics teachers? An anecdote might help to situate this idea. Many of my prospective secondary mathematics teachers, even many who have completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics, find that they have not had a chance to deeply understand the secondary school mathematics that they will teach. Furthermore, not only must prospective teachers hold procedural fluency, but they also must hold deeper underlying conceptual understanding. We must support prospective teachers as together, they develop their mathematical knowledge for teaching and as they come to understand students’ understanding of mathematics. How might mathematics teacher educators support our prospective secondary school mathematics teachers as they revisit the 6–12 content? Imagine if mathematics teacher educators had access to a build-your-own electronic textbook from which they could select content and pedagogical chapters covering particular content domains? This is one example of an idea that our community might brainstorm during the second half of the business meeting.

I wish you a happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you at the upcoming 2018 AMTE conference in Houston Texas!


Randy Philipp, AMTE President