AERA President Tyrone Howard on What Not to Miss at the 2024 Annual Meeting
AERA President Tyrone Howard on What Not to Miss at the 2024 Annual Meeting

February 2024

Dear Colleagues:

I would like to extend a heartfelt invitation for you all to join us for our Annual Meeting on April 11–14 in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. I am beyond excited about our upcoming conference. I am also mindful of the fact that we will convene at a time when there are so many pressing issues in the world and in education specifically that warrant our time, attention, research, and expertise. I am grateful for the work and effort of the incredible staff and leadership at AERA headquarters in planning this year’s Annual Meeting.

I have also been honored to work with an amazing team of program chairs in developing this year’s program: Rema Reynolds Vassar (Wayne State University), Jevon Hunter (Buffalo State University), and Linda Tillman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). We have been joined by two of my doctoral students, Keara Williams and Gene McAdoo, to create an excellent program. We are hopeful that you will find the program to be stimulating, relevant, informative, and impactful when it comes to transformative education research, practice, and policy.

This year’s theme, "Dismantling Racial Injustice and Constructing Educational Possibilities: A Call to Action,” is an opportunity and invitation for AERA to engage in a conference-wide conversation about the salience of race and racism in education, and other forms of oppression in our global community. I am pleased to announce that we received over 10,000 submissions for the program. I want to thank all of you who took time to submit and review proposals. Ours is an association built on service, volunteering, and expertise. The Annual Meeting would not be what it is without the time invested by many people around our program.

To offer a few highlights of the annual meeting, please note that Kimberlé Crenshaw (Columbia University), a pioneering scholar and writer on civil rights, critical race theory, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism, and the law, will deliver the Opening Plenary Keynote Lecture on Thursday, April 11. I also invite you to join us for the AERA Distinguished Lecture, which will be delivered by Professor Emeritus Gloria Ladson-Billings (University of Wisconsin, Madison) on Friday, April 12, and the Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, which will be given by Professor Dolores Delgado Bernal (Loyola Marymount University) on Sunday, April 14.   

There will be a number of important pre-conference events on Wednesday, April 10: professional development courses—such as “Designing Quantitative Evaluation Studies,” “Introduction to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” and “Multilevel Modeling with International Large-Scale Assessment Databases Using the HLM Software Program”—and the informal “AERA Meet the Editors” sessions (formerly “Journal Talks”). In an off-site session, leaders from the School District of Philadelphia will participate in a community conversation at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, 3301 Old York Road, Philadelphia.

My Presidential Address, on the afternoon of Saturday, April 13, “Examining Our Past to Imagine a Better Future: Recognition and Redress of Racial Injustice in Education,” will focus on new ways of thinking about the goals and means of racism and other forms of oppression in education policy, practice, and research. We are also excited to have our Black-, Brown-, and women-owned business marketplace at the Exhibit Hall. I want to encourage everyone to stop by and support locally owned businesses from the Philadelphia area.

Finally, I encourage you to attend the AERA Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Friday, April 12.

As you meet at this year’s conference, I ask you to think about three key goals.

  1. Connect. Take time to meet with old colleagues, but also to introduce yourself to new ones. There are many first-time attendees at each annual meeting. Please make them feel welcome, discuss your research interests, and learn about theirs. Career-long friendships have emerged from our convening. The Annual Meeting can feel a bit overwhelming for newcomers, and small acts of kindness can go a long way.
  2. Collaborate. Our work is often better when we work in community with others. To that end, I want to strongly encourage you to find ways to build ideas across areas of expertise, to listen to sessions outside of your field of study and find common ground to cultivate interdisciplinary opportunities. Our Annual Meeting brings participants from inside and outside of education. Discuss ideas, papers, research projects, and policy proposals that may germinate over time.
  3. Create. The Annual Meeting is a time to be innovative with our ideas, thoughtful with how we conduct our research, and to push the envelope for enhancing educational inquiries. I encourage everyone to put forth bold concepts, interrogate new theories, contribute to the building of new knowledge. Our work is better when we take risks and develop cross-cutting and generative steps, ask new questions, and construct new opportunities.

Finally, let me say that I have been beyond honored to serve this association as its president. I remember attending my first AERA Annual Meeting 28 years ago, and being enamored with the work, the people, and the synergy I felt there. Never would I have imagined that I would be able to lead this association. I have learned a lot and have developed a tremendous amount of respect for so many people who make the organization work: the AERA leadership, staff, the division vice presidents, reviewers, SIG chairs, and the members at large.

I take heart in the fact that our 25,000+ member association is replete with people who care deeply about the state of education and are committed to doing high-quality research to understand the challenges and to identify ways to improve education experiences, opportunities, and outcomes. Thank you to everyone in this association for making it work, and thank you to everyone who has offered support, assistance, and ideas about how to make us a better organization. I cannot wait to see you all in Philadelphia!  

Tyrone Howard
AERA President, 2023–2024
Pritzker Family Endowed Chair, University of California, Los Angeles