Full disclosure, I am running for the NCTM Board. So when NCTM announced their new policy that effectively ended the Math Forum, I tried envisioning the issue from the Board’s perspective. The rest of us are not privy to the internal data used by the Board in making their decision, so we cannot fully understand their decision nor can we say we would have acted any differently if we were in their shoes. That said, there are some dots that remain to be connected. I am certain that the NCTM Board did not take this decision lightly and that they acted with the best intent. I would invite them to answer the following questions to “connect the dots” for its members:
- There is no stopping the migration to online teacher professional development. Capturing the next generation of young, tech-savvy teachers is essential to a long-term solution to NCTM’s membership challenges. If not the Math Forum, then what better service will NCTM offer in its place to advance online professional development?
- Steve Weimar tweeted that the Math Forum had $1 million in grant funding for a couple more years, and the current staff chose not to relocate to Reston. NCTM’s statement also invited the Math Forum staff to reconsider and continue their employment in Reston. Given all of this, why would NCTM not hire new staff who were willing to work from Reston? This is to say nothing about Steve, Suzanne, Annie, Max, and the rest of the team who would be difficult to replace… but wouldn’t a more lean Math Forum be better than no Math Forum at all, and still be consistent with NCTM’s explanation of their decision? In this sense, discontinuing the Math Forum might signal that the NCTM Board does not actually see a place for a Math Forum-type service within NCTM moving forward, not merely that the current staff did not want to move to Reston. Barring a solid answer to question #1, this would be rightly concerning to current and prospective members.
I do not intend to criticize NCTM’s decision here, because such criticism would be premature until we know the full facts. But NCTM can help themselves by sharing those facts and convincing current and prospective members that this was the right decision. I hope they will – Matt Larson’s webinar on Wednesday would be a most opportune time, and I hope you will tune in.