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Social Justice Math in Action: From Educational Model to Educational Movement

According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), supporting students’ ability to “understand and critique the world” is one of the purposes of math education. As educators address inequities amid the current pandemic and heightened concerns about racial injustice, how can math classrooms contribute?

On Nov. 17, Francesca Henderson, Just Equations’ Math Educator in Residence, hosted a webinar that highlighted current social justice math work and explored avenues for growing and strengthening these efforts in K12 schools and postsecondary institutions.

Engaging panelists shared their inspirations, experiences, and resources; attendees deepened their understanding of what social justice math is, what it could be, and why it is an important avenue for supporting students’ agency, engagement and, ultimately, mastery of mathematics. The audience, comprised of a math educators, administrators, district and state policymakers, advocates, and researchers, joined us for this rich and timely discussion. View the webinar and associated resources below.

This webinar was co-sponsored by the Education Trust-West and TODOS: Mathematics for All.


Francesca Henderson, Math Educator in Residence, Just Equations


Ramona I. Coates, Ph.D.,Lecturer & Co-Creator of Statistics For Social Justice, Metro College Success Program, San Francisco State University
Dr. Ramona I. Coates has been a sociologist for 25 years and has taught statistics as a graduate student teaching assistant at Cal State University at Fullerton and Wayne State University and as lecturer at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and San Francisco State University (SFSU). Dr. Coates has presented several research papers at state, national, and international conferences; served on K-12 district level committees and tasks forces; facilitated workshops and professional development sessions on effective communication, racial microaggressions, best practices in teaching using social justice pedagogy and a college plenary keynote address in fostering an antiracist, equity-minded and inclusive campus to close student equity gap. Currently, she teaches one of two statistics for social justice courses she co-created, Algebra, Statistics for Social Justice, for the Metro College Success Program at SFSU and two introduction to statistics for behavioral sciences courses for online at CCSF.

Savita Malik, Ed. D., Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development, Metro College Success Program, San Francisco State University
Savita Malik has been involved in education for the past twenty years. She is a founder of the Metro program and sits on the leadership team, responsible for making decisions about the program and interfaces with campus leadership, faculty and staff. As the Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development for the Metro College Success Program she has a deep belief in the power of transforming faculty teaching through critical pedagogical principles and has a passion for the intersections between education equity and health equity. Her approach to faculty development is collaborative, builds community and challenges folks to examine hidden biases. She works closely with faculty to deconstruct white supremacy, patriarchy and colonialism within the context of higher education institutions. She is an accomplished curriculum writer, developing over 10 courses in her tenure at SF State, all which have a foundation in social justice. She works with faculty in multiple disciplines including science, math, ethnic studies, communications, English and public health.

Mele Sato, M.Ed., Mathematics Instructor, High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego
The desire to connect with others through mathematics is what brought Mele to High Tech High Media Arts, where she has been teaching for the past 13 years. From incorporating place-based learning and the social sciences into mathematics, Mele seeks to create learning experiences with her students so that they may be empowered by mathematics to create social change. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, an M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from U.C. Santa Barbara, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the High Tech High GSE. Mele strives to create meaningful experiences with all students and adults so that they may connect and influence each other in life and in learning.

John W. Staley, Ph. D., Co-author of Corwin/NCTM’s High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice
Dr. John W. Staley has been involved in mathematics education for over 30 years as a secondary mathematics teacher, district leader, and adjunct professor in schools and universities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. During his career he has presented at state, national, and international conferences; served on many committees and tasks forces; facilitated workshops and professional development sessions on a variety of topics; received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science; and served as President for NCSM, the mathematics education leadership organization. He currently serves on several advisory boards and is the chair of the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction. In addition, he was part of the writing teams for Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations (NCTM, 2018), Framework for Leadership in Mathematics Education (NCSM, 2020), and High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice (Corwin Publishing, 2020).

Lori Beth Way, Ph.D., Dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning, San Francisco State University
Lori Beth Way is Dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning and Professor of Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University. She was an American Council on Education Fellow from 2012-2013. She won the California State University system-wide Wang Family Outstanding Staff Performance award in 2019 for her leadership at San Francisco State and her contributions to the CSU system. As dean she oversees academic advising, tutoring, curricular development, the general education program, the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, first-year experience, academic program review and serves as the institution’s accreditation liaison officer. Dean Way also co-leads the campus student success and graduation initiative.


Downloadable Lesson Plans

Math and Social Justice: A Collaborative MTBoS Site

Social Justice Mathematics and Science Curricular Resources for K-12 Teachers


High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice

Math that Matters 2: A Teacher Resource for Linking Math and Social Justice

Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice By The Numbers

Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice

Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice: Conversations with Educators

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