Article Summary

Hidden Assumptions and Unaddressed Questions in Mathematics for All Rhetoric    PDF

2003, Vol. 13, No. 2, 7-21

In this article, I discuss some of the hidden assumptions and unaddressed questions in the increasingly popular Mathematics for All rhetoric by presenting an alternative, critical view of equity in mathematics education. Conceptualizations of equity within mainstream mathematics education research and policy have, for the most part, been top-down and school-focused in ways that marginalize equity as a topic of inquiry. Bottom-up, community-based notions of education in mathematics education are often of a different sort and more focused on the connections, or lack thereof, between mathematics learning and real opportunities in life. Because of these differences, there has been a continued misalignment of the goals for equity set by mathematics educators and policy makers in comparison to the goals of those who continue to be underserved in mathematics education. I also argue equity discussions and equity-related efforts in mathematics education need to be connected to discussions of equity in the larger social and structural contexts that impact the lives of underrepresented students. Achieving Mathematics for All in the context of limited opportunity elsewhere may represent a Pyrrhic victory.

Portions of this paper are based on the author’s published dissertation, Martin (2000), postdoctoral work, Martin (1998), an earlier paper, Martin (2002a), presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, 2002.

About the Author:
Danny Bernard Martin is Professor and Chair of Mathematics at Contra Costa College. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of California, Berkeley and was a National Academy of Education Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow in 1998-2000. His research focuses on equity issues in mathematics education; mathematics learning among African Americans; and mathematics teaching and curriculum issues in middle school, secondary, and community college contexts. He is also interested in school-community collaborations.

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