AERA Statement on the Charleston Shootings and Racism in America
AERA Statement on the Charleston Shootings and Racism in America

For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2015

Tony Pals, AERA
office: (202) 238-3235
cell: (202) 288-9333

 AERA Statement on the Charleston Shootings and Racism in America
Adopted in a Unanimous Resolution by the Council of the
American Educational Research Association on June 26, 2015 

The horrific deaths in Charleston, South Carolina, last week bear further witness to the troubling state of race relations and racism in the United States. These murders come as the country continues to grapple with deeply conflicted issues of race in American society that have become particularly visible in the last few years, with tragic deaths in Sanford, Florida; Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; Staten Island; and Baltimore. The Charleston massacre makes far too vivid that there is no safe place for those vulnerable to racism.

At the core of the collective national reaction to these events is the recognition that very real racial hate, prejudice, denigration, and disparities, whether or not intended, remain deeply embedded in American society and permeate everyday interactions among individuals and between individuals and societal institutions. This pervasiveness, with victims including boys and men, girls and women, young and old, has been examined and documented exhaustively by researchers. 

Yet we know far too little about how to intervene in or transcend this deeply rooted systemic problem. Education has both a responsibility and an opportunity. As the first social institution children experience outside of the family, education is a significant context of social and substantive learning related to hate, bigotry, and racism in society.  

At this time of great grief and bravery among the victimized families and communities, the American Educational Research Association expresses its deep sympathy. We call on the education research community to further commit itself to examining how school environments may exacerbate race bias and racism, how schools educate their students about such issues, and how mutual understanding and respect for all people can best be learned and taught. Researchers have a responsibility to address these issues, and government and private funders of education research are encouraged to support high-quality research initiatives.

It is also essential that educators and school leaders receive the tools, training, and support they need to build curricula with substantive exploration of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, and to provide students with meaningful opportunities to build their capacities for compassion, empathy, and acceptance.

Recent tragedies raise a broad range of societal and policy issues that are at the core of education and education research. Practitioners, policy makers, and scholars have a central role to play in addressing many of the underlying issues that have continued to tear at our countrys social fabric. It will take a concerted national effort to ensure that future generations are not beset by tragedies such as these.

AERA takes its own responsibility seriously. As a research organization, AERA will convene, communicate, and call upon the research community to use and produce the knowledge that is an essential part of eradicating racism in society.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.


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