The American Educational Research Association just completed its 94th annual conference yesterday. But a protest tagged #ReclaimAERA is expected to continue.
AERA was founded in 1916 and now has a membership of 25,000 including representatives of foundations and the private sector as well as professors and school leaders. The conference in San Francisco drew 15,000 registrants.
Most conference speakers – including Pedro Noguera, who was a guest on The Education Town Hall earlier this year – were educational researchers. But Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, was also invited to speak. And his appearance was a major catalyst for the ReclaimAERA protest.
Hundreds joined various protest activities calling for the organization to reject policies that support privatization and standardization. ReclaimAERA objects to the association “accepting money from Pearson, Inc. and other corporations exploiting education as a market” and argues that corporate influence within AERA is affecting scholarship.
A picket line prior to Duncan’s speech protested U.S. education policy, particularly high stakes testing, competition for resources, and privatization. Silent protestors during the speech held up signs with messages including “Not in my name” and “Education is not a race.” Snippets of opera and rap music were also played briefly as part of the protest to Duncan’s speech.
In addition, ReclaimAERA organized its own content. One session, for example, was entitled, “Unpacking the attack on teacher education: Corporatization, unaccountability and the neoliberal regime.”
The AERA conference theme was “Education and Poverty,” but Duncan spoke about the need to tweak assessment strategies. After the Secretary’s speech, Noguera questioned him about failing to address equity and poverty issues. Many live-Tweeting the conference said Duncan dodged the question.
Noguera’s own speech was entitled, “Education, Racial Inequality, and the Future of the American Democracy.” He focused integrating health and social services into community schools and the need to link learning to community development. He also repeated the call, shared here in January, for engaging the literacies that students from different backgrounds bring to school with them.
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