2015 Annual Meeting Draws Third Largest Attendance
2015 Annual Meeting Draws Third Largest Attendance
April 2015

Turnout for the 2015 AERA Annual Meeting, with 15,750 in attendance, was the third highest in the association’s history. Attendees from across the United States and around the world included scholars from a wide range of disciplines and fields, notable U.S. policymakers, and practitioners. Organized around the theme “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis,” sessions, panels, roundtables, lectures, and receptions highlighted issues of cultural, racial, gender, language, and other biases in an effort to move toward a greater awareness and understanding of how these paradigms influence education research, practice, and policy.

Key Sessions

In this year’s Presidential Address, “Morally Engaged Research/ers Dismantling Epistemological Nihilation in the Age of Impunity,” Joyce E. King (Georgia State University) discussed the universal human right to education, dysconscious racism, and the moral obligation of researchers to use their tools to benefit oppressed groups.

“Scholars do not check their identities at the door,” said King. “Our identities shape our inquiries; it is a matter of whether we acknowledge that or not.”

“The lives of African Americans continue to be shaped by and informed by African epistemology,” said King. “It's not just about community participation in research. It's about moral engagement. Participation is not enough.”

John Whittington Franklin and Joyce E. King
In the Opening Plenary, John Whittington Franklin, senior manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and son of famous American historian John Hope Franklin, spoke about the construction of the 19th Smithsonian museum, opening late in 2016 on the National Mall.

“We felt this museum in particular needed to be rooted in history,” said Franklin. “We will have a classroom to teach young people about the things in their homes. Things have stories.”

“My father would have been 100 this year; he reshaped our view of American history,” said Franklin. “Our knowledge is based on the knowledge of those who preceded us.”

Quoting a self-written poem, Franklin closed with, “Where our ancestors lived, we live.”

Among other major meeting highlights:

  • In a packed Social Justice in Education Award (2015) Lecture, Gloria J. Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin—Madison) lectured on historical and contemporary justice, encouraging scholars to reframe social justice with “justice... just, justice.” “Social justice is not expansive enough [a term] to help confront the injustice that grips our society,” said Ladson-Billings. “By regularly invoking ‘social justice,’ we are losing sight of big picture.”

  • In his Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, William F. Tate (Washington University in St. Louis) confronted the conflicting research paradigms of his past. “I had been living two lives, one theorizing about race and one theorizing about communities,” said Tate. “I'm here in confession.” He went on to address the importance of contextualizing research with the opportunities and race-place discussions, encouraging researchers to “take what we know about learning in community and use that as a driving force for the work you're doing.”

  • In the AERA Distinguished Lecture, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (Bard College) highlighted her work at the Bard Prison Initiative, noting that “prisons do not make us safe. An educated workforce and active citizenry make us safe.” Lagemann called on researchers to further examine college in prison programs in an effort to help change criminal justice policies.

  • 13 award winners in 12 association-wide categories were honored for their outstanding scholarship and service at the third annual AERA Awards Luncheon, and 23 new AERA Fellows were inducted at the annual Fellows Breakfast. 
  • AERA held sessions on three new booksSocializing Intelligence Through Academic Talk and Dialogue, Interest in Mathematics and Science Learning, and LBGTQ Issues in Education: Advancing a Research Agenda—all of which were released at the Annual Meeting.

Education Policy and the Chicago Urban Education Landscape

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA)

The 2015 Annual Meeting also engaged scholars in key issues surrounding research and science policy. In an invited address, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, opened the door for more collaboration between researchers and politicians, noting that “politicians may get the press, but unless we're working with researchers, we won't know what we're talking about.”

“Powerful research is happening, but it's not always finding its way to policymakers,” said Scott, who went on to discuss the education agenda for the 114th Congress, including getting the next generation out of the cradle-to-prison pipeline; improving educator effectiveness and how it is measured; increasing teacher salaries; the reauthorization of ESEA; and addressing issues for schools in high concentrations of poverty.

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA)

In a panel on “Linking Our Struggles: Visioning a Different Future,” Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) encouraged a focus on children as individuals and highlighted the problems with stereotypes such as the model-minority. “Children start school as if each child is the same. Right there, we have a problem,” said Honda.

In a collaborative session advocating for increased federal research support with leaders from AERA and the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), former Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA), also a noted clinical psychologist, discussed the potential for research to make a difference in societal challenges.

An engaging line-up of over 20 sessions in the Research and Science Policy Forum featured current and former federal officials and research policy leaders in the field. The Forum focused on emerging topics in—and the intersection between—education, education  research, and science policy. Sessions covered a range of important issues including opportunities and priorities at the Institute of Education Science (IES), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the National Science Foundation (NSF); replication in education research; using and sharing video; strategies for connecting education research to policymakers and the public; and proposed changes to FERPA. Forum participants included Joan Ferrini-Mundy (Education and Human Resources Directorate, NSF); Peggy G. Carr (NCES); and Kathleen Styles (Chief Privacy Officer, U.S. Department of Education).

AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine

Leaders from the NSF National Science Board (Deborah Lowenberg Ball), the IES National Board of Education Sciences (Anthony Bryk, Adam Gamoran, Michael Feuer, Kris Gutierrez, Larry Hedges), the National Assessment Governing Board (Terry Mazzany), the National Research Council (Robert Hauser) and its advisory committee (Kenneth Prewitt, Hon. Brian Baird, Christopher Cross, Greg Duncan), among others, also contributed to this series. Issues driving AERA’s advocacy agenda were well covered by Executive Director Felice J. Levine and Director of Government Relations Juliane Baron through several Forum sessions.  

Internationally recognized genealogist, Tony Burroughs, founder of the Center for Black Genealogy, and NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas, both Chicago natives, presented on practical interventions with youth—the power of community-family genealogical research and a youth basketball program that reduces gang violence.

“They give you a ball to play with before they give you a book,” said Thomas. “They keep drilling ‘perception is reality,’ but what if perception isn't accurate?”

Beyond the Meeting Halls

Annual Meeting papers and sessions have been making news headlines for much of April, including stories in the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Vox, International Business Times, and the major education trade publications. View complete coverage at 2015 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 where to dine. One participant even adopted a special Annual Meeting mascot, affectionately named Ed-The-Poster-Tube.

For the third year in a row, the #AERA15 hashtag hit trending status on April 18 through April 19, with over 1,800 tweets that day and over 23,000 tweets overall during the meeting, 2,000 more than during the 2014 Annual Meeting. In addition, the AERA Centennial hashtag #AERA100th trended during a session on the theme—“Public Scholarship for Diverse Democracies.”

Still to come, AERA will release videos of the 15 live-streamed sessions on the website; however, the raw video footage may be watched at any time through the live-stream page (free registration required). Once available, the professional development courses offered at the Annual Meeting will be accessible through the AERA Virtual Research Learning Center.

Bookmark the 2015 Annual Meeting page to stay up-to-date as articles, papers, videos, and photos are added.

Save the Date—2016 Annual Meeting, AERA’s Centennial Annual Meeting

The 2016 Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, on April 8–12. The theme is “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.”

Please consider volunteering to serve as a peer reviewer. The deadline to volunteer is May 11, 2015. 

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