2018 Annual Meeting Attracts More Than 17,000 Attendees
2018 Annual Meeting Attracts More Than 17,000 Attendees

April 2018   

Opening Plenary Participants (left to right):  
Anya Kamenetz, Christopher Edley, Jr., Patricia
Baquedano-Lopez, Robert Moses, Prudence L.
Carter, Sheldon Danzinger, and Eve Tuck

Opening Plenary
Presidential Address
Town Hall Meetings
A Second Town Hall Meeting

Other Major Meeting Highlights
March for Science
Beyond the Meeting Halls

The 2018 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting brought 17,148 scholars, policy leaders, students, and practitioners to New York City for the largest education research conference in the world, offering five days of stimulating research discussion, exchange, and professional development. This year’s meeting—and the 2008 meeting held ten years ago, also in New York—topped AERA turnout. Throughout the meeting and evident in the social media buzz, participants found 2018 a particularly compelling and engaging meeting. International attendance was also large, with 2,701 attendees coming from outside the United States.

Attendees from all over the globe included scholars of education research as well as a wide range of related disciplines and fields. Organized around the theme “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education,” presidential sessions, panels, poster sessions, lectures, and town hall meetings showcased the vital necessity of education research on a wide range of areas, including the role of education researchers in an era of fake news, the state of bilingual education 50 years after the passage of the Bilingual Education Act, and the fight for Mexican American studies in Arizona, among others.

Throughout the meeting, speakers acknowledged and paid respect to the historic and cultural significance of New York City, in particular by recognizing and honoring the indigenous populations who once lived on the land.

This year, 19 award winners in 13 association-wide categories were honored for their outstanding scholarship and contributions at the sixth annual AERA Awards Luncheon, and 11 new AERA Fellows were inducted at the annual Fellows Breakfast.

Opening Plenary

Excerpt from The Hamilton Musical performed 
during the AERA 2018 Welcoming Reception

The Annual Meeting's Opening Plenary Session, “Imagining Radically, Practicing Hope: How Public Education Could Disrupt Racial Injustice,” focused on public education’s central role in the struggle for justice. Anya Kamenetz (NPR) moderated the discussion with Patricia Baquedano-Lopez (University of California, Berkeley), Prudence L. Carter (University of California, Berkeley), Sheldon Danziger (Russell Sage Foundation), Christopher Edley, Jr. (University of California, Berkeley), Robert Moses (The Algebra Project), and Eve Tuck (University of Toronto) serving as panelists. 

The opening plenary featured an essential conversation about public education, its central role in the struggle for justice, and the lessons that can be learned from diverse populations who came before us. Participants were asked to recognize, organize, and mobilize their knowledge and experience to imagine a public education that does not yet exist.

"I want to figure out how we’re going to mitigate and eradicate the stressors of poverty, racism, discrimination, unemployment, and all of the things that permeate the walls of schools and our children have to carry with them,” said Carter. “In terms of reimagining educational research, it’s time to stop fetishizing and objectifying research on those of us who have been marginalized and also start to work on what’s going on in affluent, privileged, and white communities. We’re going to have to change mindsets.”

The 2018 Annual Meeting engaged and immersed participants in a unique New York City experience. Following the opening plenary session, attendees joined a welcoming reception in a packed ballroom to enjoy a live band as well as a surprise guest performance of the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.

AERA 2018 President Deborah Loewenberg Ball

Presidential Address

In this year’s Presidential Address, “Just Dreams and Imperatives: The Power of Teaching in the Struggle for Public Education,” 2018 AERA President Deborah Loewenberg Ball (University of Michigan) examined teaching’s potential for contributing to the development of a just society and supporting the flourishing of historically marginalized groups. She explained that working to make teaching a force that can regularly disrupt the injustices that persist in teaching practice requires facing and managing tensions between constraint and discretion, as well as between professional boundaries and autonomy.

Ball’s lecture was preceded by an entertaining and thoughtful sketch performance, featuring several students and faculty in the role of a classroom teacher and her students. Through poetry, rapping, and instrumental performance, participants addressed “who is the ‘public’ in ‘public education?’” through the lenses of different groups in society. 

In her compelling talk, Ball argued that teacher education has reinforced normalizing practices and pushed the community to be more critical of the work it does. Using video clips of classroom interactions, she demonstrated how seemingly minor “discretionary spaces” in how teachers interact with students can disrupt or reinforce inequities in classrooms.

“Transformative teacher education works actively to prepare teachers to be critically conscious of normalized practice and of their own experiences and assumptions and a repertoire of moves and practices that disrupt normalized practice,” said Ball.

“Your teaching matters for many reasons, but among those reasons are the problems about which I’ve spoken today,” Ball added. “Those problems require that you cultivate not only the expertise in this room right now, but new voices, new perspectives, new approaches, new questions, and new answers.”

Town Hall Meetings

This year, AERA held two town hall meetings at the Annual Meeting. Featuring prominent scholars and policy experts, the town hall meetings engaged attendees in an open dialogue on two critical areas— research on gun violence and its implications for schools and communities, as well as transforming a culture of sexual harassment in the academy and scholarly professions.

In the session “Town Hall Forum on Research on Gun Violence and Implications for Schools and Communities,” participants discussed the implications of gun violence research on schools and communities. The session was co-moderated by AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and AERA Past-President Vivian L. Gadsden (University of Pennsylvania), with David Adams (Urban Assembly), Ron Avi Astor (University of Southern California), Matthew J. Mayer (Rutgers University), Katherine S. Newman (University of Massachusetts), Pedro A. Noguera (University of California, Los Angeles), and David M. Osher (American Institutes for Research) serving as panelists.

At a time when gun violence, on average, takes the lives of 100 people and injures hundreds more in the United States every day, this panel emphasized the vital importance of credible, scientific research to help understand what works to prevents gun violence.

Gadsden introduced the forum emphasizing the insidiousness of violence. “As recent as Parkland, and the ongoing relentless neighborhood violence in low-income urban communities, violence is decimating the hopes, dreams, and lives of children and families,” remarked Gadsden. “What is the role of research and researchers in identifying the background issues and the tenuous public debates, unpacking the broad net of the violence, and in addressing the implications for schools and communities?”

In this well-attended and highly engaging session, speakers examined the roots and patterns of gun violence in the United States, and addressed the failures of zero tolerance policies and the need for school prevention programs that focus on

Town Hall Forum on Research on Gun Violence 
Participants (left to right): Vivian L. Gadsden,
Felice J. Levine, Ron Avi Astor, Pedro A. Noguera,
Matthew J. Mayer, David Adams, David M. Osher,
and Katherine S. Newman

social-emotional health and enable student empowerment and engagement. Several students from The Urban Assembly, a group of 21 public schools in New York City that serve students from low-income neighborhoods, provided their perspectives on gun violence and the steps necessary to end it. 

A second town hall meeting, “'Me Too'– A  Town Hall Meeting: Confronting Sexual Harassment in the Academy and Scholarly Professions,” spoke to contemporary concerns about the ways in which power differentials and dominant social norms and practices have led to sexual harassment, abuse, and intimidation in scientific and academic workplaces. This session was moderated by AERA Executive 

Director Felice J. Levine and Laura L. Namy, Executive Director, Society for Research in Child Development, with Rhonda Davis (National Science Foundation), Paula England (New York University), Shaun Harper (University of Southern California), Shirley M. Malcom (American Association of for the Advancement of Science), and Charol Shakeshaft (Virginia Commonwealth University) serving as panelists.

This session presented an opportunity for Annual Meeting attendees to openly address reducing sexual violence, intimidation, and harassment within the research and academic environments in which students, faculty, research professionals, support workers, and other academic and research personnel live and work.

Speakers emphasized that much more must be done at all levels—for instance, between professional colleagues when providing references, within departments, and by federal research grant-making agencies—to put an end to harassment and victimization. AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine stressed that the session was just the beginning of the conversation and that the association will continue to address the issue.

The town hall meetings were part of AERA’s Research and Science Policy series of sessions at the Annual Meeting. These sessions addressed major issues in education and education research, including advancing and benefiting from education research in confrontational and tumultuous times, data sharing at the article publishing stage, the rise of nonprofit education journalism and what it means for education researchers, and communicating research and engaging public and policy audiences.

Among Other Major Meeting Highlights

AERA Distinguished Lecture: William T. Trent

During the AERA Distinguished Lecture, William Trent (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) focused on the complexities and consequences of segregation on public education.

“As social researchers, we have to flesh out the idea of what integration looks like. Why are majority white schools not seen as a problem?” asked Trent. ”We have to vote for our best interest. We have to vote for people who best serve public education.”

Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture: 
Linda T. Smith

Additionally, during the AERA Wallace Foundation Lecture, Linda T. Smith (The University of Waikato) discussed her journey becoming and being an indigenous education researcher.

"Key terms in education are laden with history.  The term public and the dichotomy of public and private are concepts that, while they propose universality, can often be experienced by indigenous peoples as exclusionary tombs,” said Smith. “We are often excluded by concepts of the public. We are seen as oppositional to the public interest.”

March for Science

AERA was proud to be a partner organization of March for Science New York City, and urged Annual Meeting attendees to show their support of science and evidence-based policy making during the 2018 March for Science on April 14. Two days later, AERA held an Annual Meeting session titled “Advocating for the Right to Science and Evidence-Based Policy Making in Education: Lessons from the March for Science Movement,” with Caroline Weinberg, national co-chair of March for Science.

Beyond the Meeting Halls

Annual Meeting papers and sessions have made news headlines for much of April, including stories in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report, and major education trade publications. View complete coverage at 2018 AERA Annual Meeting in the News.

The online Twitter conversation has become an integrated component of the AERA Annual Meeting, with presenters, attendees, and online viewers tweeting everything from session quotes to suggestions for where to dine. Still to come, AERA will soon release the videos of the live-streamed sessions on the AERA website.

Once available, the professional development courses offered at the Annual Meeting will be accessible through the AERA Virtual Research Learning Center. Bookmark the 2018 Annual Meeting page to stay up-to-date as articles, papers, videos, and photos are added—and save the date for the 2019 Annual Meeting in Toronto, April 5–9.