The following speech was given by Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and director of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. This was the Iris M. Carl Equity Address given on April 19, 2013 at the NCTM Annual Conference in Denver. Here is the summary from Treisman:
There are two factors that shape inequality in this country and educational achievement inequality. The big one is poverty. But a really big one is opportunity to learn. As citizens, we need to work on poverty and income inequality or our democracy is threatened. As mathematics educators … we need to work on opportunity to learn. It cannot be that the accident of where a child lives or the particulars of their birth determine their mathematics education.
This was an excellent message on where precisely the educational system in this country is working, and where it is failing. Treisman gives a detailed address of what problems education can (and should) be addressing and what issues need to be handled by our society at large. It is definitely worth 50 minutes of your time to hear. Keith Devlin even goes so far as to call it our (math educators) “I Have a Dream” speech.
Below is the version of the speech compiled by Dan Meyer. The inclusion of the slides from the talk gives it even greater depth because there is some powerful data that Treisman presents.
(Word of warning, Treisman is giving a very honest speech so there is a little language that some readers of this site may find offensive. While I do not condone the exact wording used, I fully support the message being communicated.)