July 2022 NCSM Insider


Message from NCSM President, Paul Gray

Independence Days


I am such an American boy. I know it sounds corny, but my favorite song really is the Star Spangled Banner. I get weepy every time I hear it, particularly when Whitney Houston belts it out only she could. One of my COVID-isolation hobbies that I picked up was genealogy. I’ve known for some time that I’m a seventh generation Texan. Now, I’ve been able to trace roots to all sorts of different parts of the country, including Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. So come to find out, I’m just a good ol’ American mutt. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s no wonder that the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.

I love my country. And like any of our loved ones, it isn’t without faults. As a gay male, I have often felt that as much as I love my country, sometimes it just doesn’t love me back. Until relatively recent Supreme Court decisions like Windsor or Obergefell, simple interactions with the government like paying taxes or passing through customs and immigration when returning home to the U.S. made me feel like a second class citizen. If you’ve never experienced things like that, count your blessings. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to live through the specter of racism or sexism every day and every moment. Too many people have that reality.


A benefit of growing up in Houston, where East Texas, South Texas, and Cajun Louisiana collide, is its multiculturalism. I’ve been familiar most of my life with Cinco de Mayo and Dieciseis de Septiembre, two holidays that are thought of as Mexican independence days. On 16 September 1810, under the leadership of Father Hidalgo, Mexico declared its independence from Spain. So, it’s comparable to 4 July 1776 when American colonists sent King George a letter telling him to fold it in five corners and stick it where the sun does not shine. Cinco de Mayo is sometimes inaccurately called Mexican Independence Day when in reality, it commemorates the Battle of Puebla when in 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French army and sent Napoleon’s troops back home. We celebrate it today as a reminder that Mexico repelled another invading foreign army and secured its position as an independent, sovereign nation.


We’ve recently learned that the United States also has two independence days: the Fourth of July and Juneteenth. Juneteenth was born in Galveston, Texas.


I remember as a young child every June the local television stations would run public service ads wishing everyone a Happy Juneteenth. But it wasn’t a holiday that we observed in my family or neighborhood so when I asked my mother what that meant, she simply said it was the day that slaves in Texas learned they had been freed. Growing up I learned the basic facts that Juneteenth was a celebration of the day that the Union army arrived in Galveston in 1865 at the close of the Civil War and read a federal order announcing that all slaves in Texas had been freed over 2 years earlier. But as a white person, Juneteenth as a holiday didn’t mean that much to me.


Which leads me to one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes: “Do the best you can. When you know better, do better.” As a more mature adult (I heard that snicker) I have a better understanding now of why Juneteenth is important for all Americans, not just Black Americans. And thanks to the hard work of Ms. Opal Lee of Fort Worth, Texas, Juneteenth is now a national holiday. That means it’s time now for all Americans, including white folks, to gain a better understanding of what Juneteenth is, how the stories of Black Americans contribute to the fuller picture of American history, and how we can honor the occasion.


Juneteenth is a holiday to both look back and celebrate the end of slavery and look forward for ways to take action to eliminate racism. You don’t have to look far in the news headlines to see that white supremacy and white nationalism remain problems that threaten the very existence of our beloved country. We have a lot of work to do! Sometimes, that white supremacy is overt, like the white man who drove to Buffalo, New York, and slaughtered people in a grocery store parking lot for the simple fact that they were Black. But more often, that white supremacy is glossed over as a part of the way that we do things. It’s embedded in our social, political, and economic structures. Things like the neighborhoods we live in. What parts of town buildings like hospitals, grocery stores, or banks are in. How legislative districts at the city/town, county, state/provincial, and national levels are drawn to group citizens who are supposed to have “common interests.” Who gets arrested and sentenced longer for the same crime.


Take a look at our schools. For example, the practice of tracking is a practice that has racist outcomes. We know that in general, for whatever seemingly good reason, white students are placed in more advanced tracks with an emphasis on higher-level content and students of color, including Black and Hispanic students, are placed in more remedial tracks with an emphasis on basic skills. The result is that, either intentionally or inadvertently, students receive access to different types of mathematics as a consequence of their race. Hence, my claim that tracking has racist outcomes and therefore must be dismantled and replaced with structures that are more equitable.


America’s twin independence days, July 4 with its foundation that “all men are created equal” alongside Juneteenth with its focus on racial equity, provide us, as mathematics leaders, with an opportunity to rethink how our structures, systems, and practices may impact students of color. Our independence days give all Americans a call to action to look for ways that we can position all students, including students of color, as capable mathematics learners. NCSM provides some suggestions in our joint position paper with TODOS: Mathematics for ALL, Mathematics Education Through the Lens of Social Justice: Acknowledgment, Actions, and Accountability. A few of those include:

  • Refrain from using deficit discourse in professional learning communities and instructional decision making (e.g., placement decision, course offerings, intervention strategies).
  • Eliminate tracking systems that sort children based on perceived ability and demographic profile.
  • Show evidence that course taking patterns are changing, remedial/intervention courses reduced, and advanced mathematics offerings are more robust and plentiful.
  • Increase recruitment and retention of mathematics teachers and leaders from historically marginalized groups.

Our friends at NCTM also provide resources for mathematics leaders and educators to use as they work
toward more equitable structures, systems, and instruction.


Y’all be careful and we’ll touch base again in August.


You won’t want to miss the 54th Annual Conference after you see the lineup of speakers.

The full program is now available!!!

Check out the NCSM 54th Annual Conference website for an update on all of the major and spotlight speakers who will be speaking at our 54th NCSM Annual Conference in Anaheim, California!  This amazing slate of math leaders will be leading the way as we imagine, inspire, influence, and make an IMPACT!  Be sure to register and book yourhotel room so you don’t miss any of these powerful sessions.  Early Bird registration is open -  register TODAY!


Share with us on social media who you are most excited to hear speak!

Tag us @MathEdLeaders  #NCSM22CA  #NCSMBold 


Call for Manuscripts!!!!

The editors of the NCSM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership (JMEL) are interested in manuscripts!


The editors are particularly interested in manuscripts that bridge research to practice in mathematics education leadership. Manuscripts should be relevant to our members’ roles as leaders in mathematics education, and implications of the manuscript for leaders in mathematics education should be significant. At least one author of the manuscript must be a current member of NCSM.

Categories for submissions include:

  • Case studies and lessons learned from mathematics education leadership in schools, districts, states, regions, or provinces
  • Research reports with implications for mathematics education leaders
  • Professional development efforts including how these efforts are situated in the larger context of professional development and implications for leadership practice
  • Other categories that support the NCSM vision will also be considered.
    Submission Procedures

Each manuscript will be reviewed by two volunteer reviewers and a member of the editorial panel. Manuscripts should be emailed to the Journal Editors, currently Drs. Erin Lehmann and Paula Jakopovic, at [email protected] 


Submissions should follow the most current edition of APA style and include:

  • A Word file(.docx) with author information (name, title, institution, address, phone, email) and an abstract (maximum of 120 words) followed by the body of the manuscript (maximum of 12,000 words)
  • A blinded Word file (.docx) as above but with author information and all references to authors removed.

Click on any image below for more info!!!!.

Latest NCSM Podcast - From Mona Toncheff, NCSM Past President & John SanGiovanni, RD for Eastern Region 2


Networking Nights with NCSM - From Jenny Novak NCSM Professional Learning Directors & Georgina Rivera


NCSM Inspiration! - From Kim Romain and Luis Lima, NCSM Inspiration Co-Editors

NCSM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership - From Erin Lehmann & Paula Jakopovic, NCSM Journal Co-Editors

Essential Actions: Culturally Relevant Leadership in Mathematics Education


Regional Director Blog


\Joint Position Paper

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