Alfredo Artiles Delivers 14th Annual <em>Brown</em> Lecture
Alfredo Artiles Delivers 14th Annual Brown Lecture

October 2017

Artiles' Talk Followed by Discussion Forum 

On October 19, Alfredo J. Artiles delivered the 14th Annual Brown Lecture, “Re-envisioning Equity Research: Disability Identification Disparities as a Case in Point,” to a packed house of more than 900 at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.  The talk was followed by an open discussion forum and was joined by more than 450 online viewers from around the world.

Artiles, a leading scholar examining how disability intersects with race, language, gender, and social class, pointed to the educational opportunities related to disability classifications as well as the inequities and disparities that they can perpetuate.  At Arizona State University (ASU), Artiles is the Ryan C. Harris Professor of Special Education and Dean of the Graduate College. He also directs the Equity Alliance at ASU. Artiles has received numerous honors, such as the 2001 Early Career Award from AERA’s Committee on Scholars of Color in Education, the 2012 Palmer O. Johnson Award, and the 2017 Review of Research Award. In 2011, he was appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Artiles is an AERA Fellow and a former Spencer Foundation/ National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellow; he was also a Resident Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

AERA President Deborah Loewenberg Ball welcomed the audience, noting that the Brown Lecture is an annual reminder of the important role that research can play in advancing equality in education.

Artiles prefaced his lecture with two ideas: “Research can change society, but it also has the power to repeat injustices,” and, “The power of research as an engine of societal advancement rests in its rigorous technical foundations, as well as in its moral mindfulness about the cultural and historical conditions that permeate what and how investigators study problems of social significance.”

Artiles explained that contemporary science is evolving in unprecedented ways that might undermine attention to moral issues. “The pivotal contributions of research and the moral commitments of researchers are integrally tied, and are as (if not more) critical in the 21st century as they were in the past.”  He discussed the implications for the next generation of education equity research: “We must refine our research to avoid the stereotyping of groups, the reliance on culture-less conceptions of human development and learning, and the erasing of power in human activities.”

When reflecting on Brown v. Board of Education, Artiles said that “The repercussions of the Brown decision for students with disabilities have been substantial, yet largely unacknowledged or investigated.” He explained that students with disabilities have benefitted from the decision in terms of access and participation policies and entitlements, but that they have also suffered in relation to achievement gaps, dropout rates, and other major areas of equity.

Artiles outlined guidelines for the next generation of research in disparities in disability identification: “First, future research must rely on historical epistemology …. Second, the next generation of this research needs to produce collages of interdisciplinary representations of the marginalized groups affected by this problem. And third, future research must illuminate the intersectional lives of the people marked by disability disparities.”

“Traditional research does not scrutinize how these intellectual legacies frame, leave intact, and thus, feed into current practices and policies,” said Artiles.  He concluded by calling the audience to have a sense of urgency: “My analysis of the research on these disparities suggests that morally committed research is necessary because it makes our work more rigorous …. We now know. We can no longer delay our actions.”

Executive Director Felice J. Levine makes
closing comments following the discussion forum.

Artiles’ lecture served as the catalyst for an open discussion forum where the audience and online viewers were invited into a “living room” setting to continue the conversation with Artiles and leaders from policy sectors. The discussion was moderated by Christina Samuels (Education Week), and Jake Cornett (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) and Liz King (The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights) served as commentators. Open microphones in the theatre allowed for questions and encouraged audience engagement.

In their comments, Cornett and King emphasized the importance of research to policymakers and practitioners and linked the issues raised in Artiles’ talk to concerns facing students, schools, and lawmakers.

Executive Director Felice J. Levine wrapped up the evening by underscoring the importance of sound and significant research on issues of disability identities and on education and human rights more broadly.

The lecture was made possible through the generous support of 12 Friends of Brown: American Institutes for Research, American Political Science Association, American Statistical Association, Drexel University School of Education, Educational Testing Service, George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, National Communication Association, SAGE Publications, Inc., Society for Research in Child Development, Spencer Foundation, and the University of Maryland College of Education.

The 2018 AERA Brown Lecture and discussion forum will be held on October 25, 2018. The Brown Lecture Selection Committee is currently accepting nominations for next year’s lecture.

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