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Request by Members of STaR 2017 Cohort to Move the AMTE 2018 Conference

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Please support our request to move the 2018 AMTE Conference.

Below you will find a letter to the AMTE Board of Directors from the 2017 STaR Cohort. As members of this year's STaR cohort, we are obligated as fellows to attend the AMTE 2018 Conference. Accordingly, we are compelled to address the recent controversy regarding the conference location. The letter represents our best effort as a cohort to influence, the location and, at the very least, the tenor of the conference.

The hope of many within our cohort is for the conference be moved to a location outside of Texas (and the other states banned by the California legislature). We are not naive. We acknowledge if our gaze rests too long on any place inequities and discrimination will come into focus. Our desire is not to find a perfect place to hold a conference, rather our goal is to encourage a principled and pragmatic stance toward such decisions in which we find ways to acknowledge harms to the marginalized and minimize our role in perpetuating inequities. Given the climate of state- and national-level politics, AMTE and other educational organizations will have to make many decisions related to its stance on equity and social justice, not only rhetorically, but through the direction of its organizational resources.

Please use your voice to support our request and use the comments section to send a clear message to the AMTE Board of Directors. Many of us within the cohort have committed to not attending the AMTE 2018 Conference if the conference is not moved or concrete actions (delineated in the letter) are not taken. Stand with us.

In solidarity,

Martha Byrne, Mark Creager, Heidi Eisenreich, Maisie Gholson, Funda Gonulates, Kristin Harbour, Erica Litke, Jennifer Lovett, Alison Marzocchi, Daniel Reinholz, Jennifer Ruef, Rachel Snider, Krista Strand, Shannon Sweeny, Michael Tallman, James Willingham, Jonee Wilson, Seanyelle Yagi

Proud members of 2017 STaR Cohort


Dear AMTE board members,

As members of the STaR 2017 cohort, we are writing to begin dialogue with regard to pressing current events. Our cohort is proud to be a part of an organization with deep commitments to equity—a commitment we share. In particular, we recognize AMTE’s commitment to “place issues of equity and social justice at the forefront of AMTE’s focus.” We feel strongly that this is not just a statement but a stance that must be supported through concrete action.

We thank you for your hard work and commitment to the AMTE organization and for the professional development opportunity provided through the AMTE STaR Program to junior scholars pursuing tenure. We understand the investment in us, as individuals and a collective, and share our thoughts as a community committed to the future of mathematics education research and teacher education.

The recent decision by the California Legislature to install a financial travel ban to several states, including Texas, brought to light the passage of HB 3859. This law allows private agencies to discriminate against children in foster care, and potentially disqualify LGBTQ+ families from the foster and adoption system. This raises a set of issues related to both the principles and pragmatics of being a STaR Fellow. On principle, many of us feel the law stands in direct opposition to the values of AMTE’s commitment to equity and our own values for equity and social justice. With respect to the pragmatics, we acknowledged the inequities impacting a subset of our cohort, namely the California scholars, who would be unable to attend the conference without personal cost or risk, and more importantly, the personal risk of STaR fellows (and other AMTE members) who identify as LGBTQ+ and have been made to feel unwelcome and marginalized in the state of Texas.

As STaR fellows, we prioritized discussing these issues within our 2017 cohort meeting. Our initial discussion centered on standing in solidarity with the populations marginalized by HB 3859 by not attending the conference unless it could be moved elsewhere. When it became clear that moving the location was unfeasible, our discussion turned to the ways in which the conference might be educative to a broader audience with regards to AMTE’s stance on equity. In this way, AMTE might have a more impactful voice, in learning from and with LGBTQ+ communities in Texas.

The core idea is this: If we cannot move the conference, and we must attend in Texas, how can we be helpful and supportive to communities that are negatively impacted by the discriminatory laws of Texas? As a STaR cohort, we collectively recommend and request the following concrete actions towards realizing AMTE’s equity principle, specifically in relation to the 2018 AMTE conference:

  • A public statement from AMTE advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and against discrimination of the civil rights of all individuals in general, with reference to the current political climate.
  • A plenary talk with a specific focus on LGBTQ+ issues in education. Here are some potential scholars we feel would be appropriate: Kai Rands (independent consultant;, Indigo Esmonde (University of Toronto), and Laurie Rubel (Brooklyn College, CUNY).
  • Invited conference session(s) that actively engage the AMTE and local Houston community with a specific focus on LGBTQ+ rights in education that will:
    • actively include the voices and experiences of the local LGBTQ+ community in the planning and organization of these sessions;
    • engage math teacher educators, teachers, principals, and other local actors in collective dialogue;
    • ensure a stipend for the presenters.
  • Monetary support for STaR fellows who cannot use state (e.g., California) funds to travel to the conference, given state anti-discrimination laws.

We see these requests as a starting place for dialogue with the AMTE board about planning for the conference. We recognize that the board members have expertise and perspectives that are not available to us as STaR Fellows and look forward to working together to honor AMTE’s equity commitments. We are prepared to contribute and take concrete actions, using our own time and resources, to achieve these actions during the AMTE 2018 Conference and within broader structures of the AMTE organization. For instance, we are committed to using our connections within the local Texas LGBTQ+ community (e.g. GLSEN, PFLAG Houston, Organizacion Latina de Trans en Texas) to invite their voices into the conference.

We take seriously AMTE’s commitment to creating a more just, humanizing, and equitable mathematics education experience for all. If the organization cannot take concrete actions to support the AMTE equity principles, we would see this as being in serious opposition with AMTE’s espoused commitments and would need to reconsider whether or not to attend the event.

To reiterate, we are proud to be members of AMTE and appreciate the group’s commitment to us as STaR fellows. We are grateful for the professional growth and support that AMTE has provided us through the STaR Fellows Program. Here, we offer our support in putting the AMTE equity principles into action. We appreciate the transparency and open dialogue that we have already had with AMTE leadership about the roles AMTE can take. We look forward to continuing this dialogue as we collectively enact AMTE’s principles of equity.

Thank you for your support!

Members of the 2017 STaR cohort

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