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Topic: [ncsm-members] UI defends professor after book chapter draws attention
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] UI defends professor after book chapter draws attention
Posted: Oct 30, 2017 8:56 PM
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From The News-Gazette, Monday, October 30, 2017. SEE
UI defends professor after book chapter draws attention

[Thursday, October 26, 2017]

By Debra Pressey

CHAMPAIGN - A book chapter written by a University of Illinois
education professor who contended that mathematics operates as an
unearned privilege in society, "just like Whiteness," is attracting a
flurry of attention.

Rochelle Gutierrez expressed her views in a professional training
series book titled "Building Support for Scholarly Practices in
Mathematics Methods," arguing that mathematics teaching is political,
and math teachers need political knowledge.

Gutierrez couldn't be reached for comment, but the UI released a
statement defending her right to express her views.

"The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to
academic freedom," interim Provost John Wilkin said. "Prof. Rochelle
Gutierrez is an established and admired scholar in the area of
mathematics education."

Wilkin also said that like all UI faculty, Gutierrez has the rights
of academic freedom necessary to pursue scholarship and research on
important subjects and reach conclusions, "even if some might
disagree with those conclusions."

"The issues around equity and access in education are real - with
significant implications to our entire educational system," he said.

In the book chapter, Gutierrez said that on many levels, "mathematics
operates itself as Whiteness."

"Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable
in mathematics and who is seen as part of the mathematical community
is generally viewed as white," she said.

Math courses that emphasize terms such as Pythagorean theorem and pi
contribute to the perception that math was largely developed by
Greeks and other Europeans, she said.

Not only that, Gutierrez wrote, "currently mathematics operates as a
proxy for intelligence."

"Are we really smart just because we do mathematics?" she asked.

Gutierrez argued for political knowledge for teaching that helps
deconstruct and negotiate "the world of high-stakes testing and

Teachers with this knowledge understand that rather than just getting
kids to perform the same or better on achievement tests, "we should
be invested in helping students become the kinds of people they want
to be, fulfilling goals they have defined, which can mean different,
not same outcomes," she wrote.

Math teachers should be prepared to stand and reclaim their
profession, Gutierrez argued.

"Prospective (and practicing) teachers need opportunities to
understand the broader education landscape as it relates to capital,
identity and power," she wrote. "They need to be able to deconstruct
the messages that society sends to us about what is important in
learning, teaching and justice."

On Monday, correspondent Toni Airaksinen, who
according to her short biography writes on "liberal bias and abuse on
college campuses," reported on Gutierrez's views on math education.
Since then, the story has attracted attention from reporters and
commentators online.

"To me, it seems like the decision about what to teach in mathematics
should be based solely on the standard of what will be most important
for students to learn in order to succeed," wrote Katherine Timpf, an
online reporter for the National Review.

Gutierrez has taught at the local UI campus since 1996. She focuses
on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular
attention to how race, class and language affect teaching and
learning, according to her UI biography.
SIDEBAR PHOTO: University of Illinois education Professor Rochelle
Gutierrez. Photo by: Provided

Jerry P. Becker
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Services
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
625 Wham Drive / MC 4610
Carbondale, Illinois 62901

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