Being deep in data-collection for my dissertation project I have been hard-pressed to get on the blogging tip in the last few weeks.
Like many emerging educator-activist-scholars in the field of Education in the U.S., I am a member of the American Education Research Association (AERA). The big annual conference is coming up in a few weeks and being held in San Fransisco.
A several weeks ago my ears perked up because I heard that National Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was going to be speaking. Perhaps more disturbing was that he was included on an emailer as one of four prominent “education researchers”.
My inner voice response to reading this was: “What?!?!”
Arne Duncan is someone we (families, educators, ed researchers, the public, etc.) should all be watching vigilantly, which is something I would like to write about at another time, but right now what is important is thinking about what he represents ideologically and materially for my area of academic-political work. He is, in some sense, a conjuncture where forces of privatization are working their way through not only N-12 education, but also through Higher Education and Schools of Education in particular. Just like N-12 ed, we see punitive, inhumane, evaluation taking place; the ongoing dominance of publishers and textbook industries, and we see a dispossession of working class students and students of color, and faculty who are of working class backgrounds and are of Color.
I was not alone in being concerned, and what emerged was a group of like minded, politically engaged, educator-scholars who said we gotta do something. Thus was born reclaimAERA, which is even more active on facebook
I will post more about reclaim AERA soon, but since it emerged, there was a post by the current President of AERA, Bill Tierney, that did not explicitly name reclaimAERA, but it seemed like the writing was on the wall.
Most bothersome was this part of the email:
I am weary of the abuse of social media by writers hurling anonymous, venomous insults—a practice that encourages the general retreat to intellectual neighborhoods. Our work and our interactions with one another should model productive conversation about the nature of education, schooling, and reform. The conference gives us an opportunity to demonstrate very publicly how thoughtful disagreements can take place. I hope that in the invited addresses, the presidential sessions, the myriad papers, roundtables, and posters, and in my own presidential address, we will challenge our own assumptions rather than simply reconfirm what we think we know.
Again, I thought, “What?!?!”
I want write a more thought out statement, but our colleague and friend Barbara Madeloni articulated a response over on the @theChalkFace blog that is wonderful.