Reconceptualizing quality and equity in the cultivation of minority scholars in mathematics education

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In this chapter, the authors argue that the continuing inequities in achievement and persistence in mathematics, between African American students and their White counterparts, even after 25 years of discussion about the problem and numerous initiatives aimed at closing the gaps, might be the result of inadequate conceptualizations of the notion of equity itself. The chapter offers a reconceptualization that moves away from the traditional notions of equity as equity of opportunity, and equity as equity of treatment, to a social justice perspective of equity. The social justice perspective of equity is aligned with the notion of equity as equity of outcomes, but offers a more encompassing view than is traditionally implied by the proponents of equity as equity of outcomes. The authors argue that notions of equity and quality intersect and from the social justice perspective, a quality mathematics education is one that empowers people to use mathematics to interrogate, expose, and ameliorate the systemic, structural inequities that lie at the heart of inequities in mathematics. The chapter then offers a look at one of only two doctoral programs in mathematics education being offered at a historically Black university. A doctoral program in mathematics education, located at such an institution, by its very existence challenges the privileged status of mathematics and mathematics education. Through the voices of students in the program, the authors offer a view of their students’ perceptions of their efforts to engage a social justice agenda.