It is time for researchers and university educators to join in solidarity with teachers, students, parents and community members across the country to refuse the technocratic, dehumanizing forces of privatization and claim education for democracy.
Narratives of the market; discourses of accountability, outcomes and standards; demands for quantitative data; funding tied to student test data; suggestions to cooperate and ‘get a place at the table;’ and good old fashioned threats and job losses are the strings of the life/death we weave in the academy these days. Whether presented as great gains for a transformative higher education, or reasonable compromises under the shock doctrine of austerity budgets, we, like our K12 comrades, are experiencing increasing incursions of corporate interests into our day to day work.
The AERA has invited Arne Duncan, one of the chief purveyors of the standardization and privatization of education, to speak at its annual conference. The AERA accepts money from Pearson, Inc. and other corporations exploiting education as a market. The corporate influence within AERA includes increasing numbers of articles and paper presentations by individuals with corporate and think tank connections as well as elaborate propaganda tables at its exhibition hall. The AERA is organizing its journals in line with the corporate focus on quantifiable data.
These actions serve to support the dismantling of education as a public good, narrow the possibilities of what it means to research, know, learn and share our understandings, and marginalize and silence voices of dissent.
As members of the nation’s premier educational research association, we call on and will participate with AERA leaders to reclaim its mission by:
• Rejecting policies that support privatization and standardization;
• Naming the effects of these policies on educators and students at all levels;
• Refusing to exchange a “place at the table” for genuine participation in policy development and implementation.
As members of AERA, we reclaim this space, materially and discursively. In pursuit of this reclamation, we begin by taking up the following actions:
• Oppose the invited talk of Secretary Arne Duncan at the AERA 2013 Annual Meeting.
• Resist actions and public narratives that signify complicity in privatization and corporatization of education and educational research.
• Name the corporate incursion for what it is and refusing to participate in the discourses and practices of standardization and corporatization.
• Foster and encourage educational research that represents diversity of thought, methodology, and cultural/social/political privilege. Consciously seek to create space and allocate resources for historically underrepresented voices.
These initiatives are a starting point; this collaborative endeavor will certainly shift and flex as its members struggle to define, discuss, create, and share meanings together in this political project.