Reclaim AERA: Protest Arne Duncan Speech

Thanks for the support @rethinkschools #reclaimAERA #edjustice

Rethinking Schools

By Ann Berlak

For the first time since I can remember some members of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)—the largest association of educators and educational researchers in the world—are taking a public stand at AERA’s annual meeting in San Francisco against the corporatization, standardization and privatization of education.

reclaimaera-thumbnailSadly, the leadership of AERA has invited Arne Duncan, who represents and supports the technocratic, dehumanizing forces of privatization to speak on Tuesday, April 30, 3:45 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel. This and other actions by the AERA 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.

We are inviting teachers, administrators, students, parents and concerned community members to join those of us at AERA as we make visible our support for public education and democratic empowerment

Here’s…

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Info for Session with Arne Duncan 4.30.13 at the Hitlon Union Sq. 3:45-4:45p

Special Invited Address: U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan (#AERASec)

Title: Choosing the Right Battles: Remarks and a Conversation

Scheduled Time: Tue Apr 30 2013, 3:45 to 4:45pmBuilding/Room: Hilton Union Square / Continental 4-6

Session Participants:

Chair: William G. Tierney (University of Southern California)

Arne Duncan (U.S. Department of Education)

Taking Action @AERA13: Ready, Set, Go

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Ready, set , go!!

ACTIONS to reclaimAERA:

1) We will be distributing armbands with messages of protest. Please take one and wear it throughout the conference.

2) We will be leafleting. Please take leaflets, share, leave them where others will read them, talk with others about the ideas and information on the leaflets (leaflet ideas can be posted on our facebook group)

3) We will have a strong presence at Arne’s talk (Tuesday April 30th 3:45-4:45, Hilton Union Sq. Continental 4-6). Please get there early. Please bring signs. They may not allow signs, so prepare signs on paper that can fit into your bag and then come out during his talk.

4) We are meeting Sunday at 2 PM to discuss the talk and other actions face-face. Please sign up for that event on facebook, and we will let you know the location.

5) Attend the EDU4 session on Wednesday from 2:15-3:45 at the Union Hall 209 Golden Gate to continue the discussion and planning.

6) Support the boycott of the Hyatt. Do not attend sessions there. Move your session if it is scheduled at the Hyatt. The Union Hall is available. Contact us for more information.

7) Watch our facebook page or our twitter  (@reclaimAERA, #reclaimAERA, #edjustice) for sessions that name the corporate assault on education.

8) This group came together to bring attention to Duncan’s presence and the corporatization of AERA. While we have taken some leadership, there are other individuals and groups concerned about these issues and taking action.

Please email us at reclaimAERA@gmail.com with ideas to share. We will connect with each other through that email address. Please instigate your own actions. Other things we can do:

Bring these issues up at your SIG meetings and plan other actions from there.

Ask questions at every session you attend about how researchers are addressing the corporate assault on public education.

Send ideas for flyers and signs. We will share these on facebook and the webpage before the conference.

Follow us on twitter for updates during AERA (@reclaimAERA, #reclaimAERA, #edjustice)

We are still looking for Oakland parents and teachers to protest the talk. Please be in touch!

What reclaimAERA stands for

reclaimAERA.thumbnail

 

As members of the American Educational Research Association we are committed to:

* free and equal public education for all as a cornerstone of democracy.

* research, scholarship and policy making that grows from and with communities  that are impacted by these.

* knowledge production as varied, multiple and contextual.

* research, scholarship and policy free from the interests of corporations and venture philanthropists.

*  public education-at every level-as a space for social imagination and the practice of freedom.

AERA has failed to take a public stance in support of these commitments and has not provided space for meaningful dialogue about how we can enact these commitments. Instead, AERA supports: 

* narrowing of ‘acceptable’ research to demands of quantification and standardization.

* affiliation with corporate sponsors like Pearson, Inc.

*  denial of the impact of corporate influences when it accepts for publication articles authored by writers from corporate sponsored think tanks.

* complacency in the face of the ongoing assault on education and incursions of corporations into research and practice led by such actors as: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. the Broad Foundation, and Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation

Case in point: invited “education researcher’ Secretary Duncan whose policies have led to:

* school closings; increased testing; narrowing of curriculum; undermining of collective bargaining; increasing of for profit charter schools; increased corporate influence in education.

* students, teachers, parents, and scholars threatened, silenced, and abandoned.

We invite our colleagues, students, and parents to refuse the corporatization of education, build alliances to resist its policies, take action, and join the conversation as we imagine education as the practice of freedom.

*Take ACTION to reclaimAERA

1) We will be distributing armbands with messages of protest. Please take one and wear it throughout the conference.

2) We will be leafleting. Please take leaflets, share, leave them where others will read them, talk with others about the ideas and information on the leaflets (leaflet ideas can be posted on our facebook group)

3) We will have a strong presence at Arne’s talk (Tuesday April 30th 3:45-4:45, Hilton Union Sq. Continental 4-6). Please get there early. Please bring signs. They may not allow signs, so prepare signs on paper that can fit into your bag and then come out during his talk.

4) We are meeting Sunday at 2 PM to discuss the talk and other actions face-face. Please sign up for that event on facebook, and we will let you know the location.

5) Attend the EDU4 session on Wednesday from 2:15-3:45 at the Union Hall 209 Golden Gate to continue the discussion and planning.

6) Support the boycott of the Hyatt. Do not attend sessions there. Move your session if it is scheduled at the Hyatt. The Union Hall is available. Contact us for more information.

7) Watch our facebook page or our twitter  (@reclaimAERA, #reclaimAERA, #edjustice) for sessions that name the corporate assault on education.

8) This group came together to bring attention to Duncan’s presence and the corporatization of AERA. While we have taken some leadership, there are other individuals and groups concerned about these issues and taking action.

Please email us at reclaimAERA@gmail.com with ideas to share. We will connect with each other through that email address. Please instigate your own actions.

* JOIN the CONVERSATIONS (a more updated list here)

Alternatives to Arne: CESJ business meeting
Saturday 7:15 p.m.
Hilton Union Square-Plaza A

Networks governance? New policy networks and the global privatization of education.
Sunday 12:25 p.m.
Westin St. Francis

Bringing the city back in to Urban Education Studies
Mon. 8:30 a.m.
Union Hall 209 Golden Gate
 

Left Behind in the Race to the Top: Realities of Education Reform
Tuesday 8 a.m.
Hilton Union Sq., Golden Gate 8
 

Unpacking the attack on teacher education:
corporatization, unaccountability and the neoliberal regime
Tuesday 5:05 p.m.
Westin St. Francis

Social imagination and political activism
conversation.
Wednesday 2:15-3:45 p.m.
Union Hall 209 Golden Gate

For updates on organizing, actions and events, go to: 

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/reclaimAERA/
Web: https://reclaimaera.wordpress.com
twitter: @reclaimAERA
hashtags: #reclaimaera #edjustice
email: reclaimaera@gmail.com

List of key events/sessions (if you want to add a session post it on our facebook page or email reclaimAERA@gmail.com)

Flyers

Flyers for AERA Conference

reclaimAERA.thumbnail

Here are various pdfs for you to distribute. Some are more direct protest flyers while others carry information about some key panels/events that reclaimAERA participants will attending together.

PROTEST FLYERS

Co-optedflyer (PDF)

Co-optedflyer

erase to the top (pdf)

erase to the top

 

flagaera (PDF)

flagaera

i.am.not.for.sale (pdf)

i.am.not.for.sale

STOP.rttt (pdf)

STOP.rttt

 

 

KEY PANELS/EVENTS

How can we reclaim the AERA1 (pdf)

How can we reclaim the AERAsessions (pdf)

reclaim AERAleaflet 2-1 (pdf)

Nipping Dissent: The Hollow Centrality of Neoliberal Democracy and Multiculturalism

By Edwin Mayorga and Julie Gorlewski (with support from reclaimAERA)

“I am weary of the abuse of social media by writers hurling anonymous, venomous insults—a practice that encourages the general retreat to intellectual neighborhoods. Our work and our interactions with one another should model productive conversation about the nature of education, schooling, and reform. The conference gives us an opportunity to demonstrate very publicly how thoughtful disagreements can take place. I hope that in the invited addresses, the presidential sessions, the myriad papers, roundtables, and posters, and in my own presidential address, we will challenge our own assumptions rather than simply reconfirm what we think we know.” – Bill Tierney, President of AERA

Recently, AERA President Bill Tierney sent a mass email to us, the members of AERA, calling on us to engage and thoughtfully disagree. To readers working with reclaimAERA, an emerging group of AERA members and non-members (by choice) working to transform AERA and interrupt the privatization of this body, the call to “challenge our own assumptions” rings hollow, since the text, itself, makes no indication of a willingness to model this approach. His piece links disciplinary expertise with non-productive conflict, implying a false dichotomy between full engagement and abuse.  Furthermore, and perhaps most disturbingly, Tierney asserts a neat, clean, bleached image of “productive discussion,” an image that does consider critical questions: Who decides what kinds of discussion are productive? Productive for whom?  In a “productive” discussion, who speaks and who is silent? Whose languages are privileged and whose are ignored?

The whole notion that meaningful dialogue is “civil” reflects a troubling perspective. Jones (2007) states that discussions around education are too often oriented in a “problem-solution” frame, one that fails to appreciate the value of struggle, of relationships forged in and sustained through struggle.

It is in the irresolvable tension between such contradictory positions and arguments about our relationship where thought and practice get interesting, as well as difficult, and where new thinking and practice arise in education. (emphases in original, p. 14)

While a call for dialogue is commendable, this most recent message seeks to shape and control the nature of that dialogue. By describing unnamed participants in the dialogue as “writers hurling insults anonymously,” Tierney insults and dismisses their words and experiences. Furthermore, the vagueness of his message has left many colleagues wondering who, exactly, Tierney’s words targeted. The question raised by his statement echoes in our corridors and on social media sites: “Is he talking about us?”

Sadly, we fear that the attempt to frame dialogue and dissent as uncivil or misguided is emblematic of “control and divide” practices where communities, unions, and professional relationships are being dismantled and destroyed under the guise of civility, superficial democracy and controlled inclusivity. It is only on the terms of those in power and those that fund power that the structures of communication, research, teaching, and relationship building are being defined, and this is unacceptable!

In what is meant to be an authored, specific response, we challenge the AERA president’s claim to define what counts as “productive discussion” and what “thoughtful disagreements” might look like. We deny definitions of meaningful discussion that ignore existing power relations and act as if we all speak at the same volume, with respect to status. Without mockery, we share what we are “weary” of:

  • being bullied and silenced by corporatizers and privatizers who have a full-time staff doing what we are doing before and after work
  • caving the increasingly standardized demands of accreditors and professional organizations owned and run by the corporatizers and privatizers
  • having assessment, an essential aspect of teaching and learning, be wrenched from our expert, loving hands
  • accepting, as unquestioned, the reality that children of the wealthy deserve a vastly different education from children of the less wealthy, and that the corporatizers and privatizers can coerce public educators into providing poor education
  • accepting that unions are evil and public education is broken
  • having definitions of what counts as research and data be narrowed into numbers
  • being coerced and bribed into implementing policies that are never voted on or discussed in public (or professional) spaces.

We believe in the power and promise of engaging in ongoing struggles over issues that define human relationships. If we eliminate tension, we eliminate potential for real dialogue – not dialogue aimed at a tidy solution, but dialogue intended to deepen understandings, reveal assumptions, and name experiences. Jones (2007) explains

In ka whawhai tonu mātou [1] we are engaged in a relationship. This has to be seen positively, given it is engagement; it is not dis-engagement. To struggle with another is to give active and proper attention to the other, to relate to the other. Even as an enemy you are hoariri or hoa whawhai – an angry ‘friend’: one with whom it is worth engaging, someone with whom you have a relationship of struggle. Ake ake ake makes the engagement or relationship permanent; this must be like a marriage of some sort! (and not a divorce). (p. 12)

To attempt to corral a plurality of views and articulations of dissent is a form of affective and distributive injustice where democratic communication is squelched, power remains centralized, and accountability to the constituency is negated.

If AERA is committed to justice, it is committed to love[2]. Love in public is a process of democratization and as Baker et al (2006) remind us:

democratisation involves substituting dialogue for dominance, cooperation and collegiality for hierarchy, and active learning and problem solving for passivity” (p. 16)

Love is messy, loud, and difficult – but our approach to love defines us. We must engage, or risk divorce.

reclaimAERA invites all of you who read this to write, respond, and act through all venues in social media (email, facebook, blogs, etc) and, most importantly, in our personal and professional relationships.

Works Cited
Jones, A.  Ka whawhai tonu mātou: The interminable problem of knowing others Inaugural Professorial Lecture, University of Auckland, 24 October, 2007.

Baker, J., Lynch, K., Cantillon, S. and Walsh, J.  (2006) “Equality: Putting the Theory into Action.” Res Publica, 12: 411-433.


[1] The interminable problem of knowing others

[2] “Justice is what love looks like in public.”- Cornel West

On thoughtful disagreements and righteous anger- a reply to Pres. Tierney’s recent email

I have been writing this post in my head since at least Occupy the DOE, so it is not simply a direct reply to president of the American Educational Research Association Bill Tierney’s recent email in which he, I expect in anticipation of the protests planned for Arne Duncan’s invited talk at the AERA conference, wrote:

“I am weary of the abuse of social media by writers hurling anonymous, venomous insults—a practice that encourages the general retreat to intellectual neighborhoods. Our work and our interactions with one another should model productive conversation about the nature of education, schooling, and reform. The conference gives us an opportunity to demonstrate very publicly how thoughtful disagreements can take place. I hope that in the invited addresses, the presidential sessions, the myriad papers, roundtables, and posters, and in my own presidential address, we will challenge our own assumptions rather than simply reconfirm what we think we know.”

I will get back to this email in a moment, but first I want to tell what I was writing when this email arrived. Because I was thinking about the multiple ways we are silenced and silence ourselves. I was thinking of righteous anger and the ethical imperative to defend our humanity, our potential for democracy; to do justice as love in public.[i]

This week I received yet another email from a colleague, a person who I have never met or known, telling me that s/he could no longer withstand the toxicity of his/her academic workplace; that the imposition of the edTPA was driving her/him from teacher education. I get these emails regularly from people who have committed their life’s work to teacher education, but are being threatened, intimidated and surveilled into silence, resignation, despair.

And on facebook I follow the lengthy discussions as teachers, often using pseudonyms for fear of retribution, wonder if they can speak to parents about their concerns with standardized testing. I read as teachers post their letters of resignation, their weariness with being called lazy and selfish by corporate deformers while their work is increasingly micro-managed into emptiness.

I hear from a colleague who worries about posting a paper on the AERA portal, fearing that higher ups will read it and thus complicate a tenure review.

Another colleague emails to remind me to not use her edu account when communicating about activism.

Last week, a colleague presented a research quandary: she wants to research the sites from which neo-liberal corporate education ‘reform’ emerges, but everyone she interviews from these sites has signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Just as faculty and students being made to use the edTPA must sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Secrecy and silencing.

And then, just as a reminder, there is me- who lost her job for speaking my concerns about the TPA and supporting students who refused to participate in the field-test being run by Pearson.

We live at a moment when demands for silence are profound; when voicing disagreement and making arguments for academic freedom elicit implicit and explicit threats; when ‘toxic’ work environments are more and more the norm, and teachers, students and higher education faculty are subject to the imposition of ‘standards,’ rubrics, scores, outcome measures, data points and other aspects of the accountability regime that discount whole swaths of what it means to know, research, communicate, be human.

For those of us who ever find ourselves in some space on the margins, being discounted is not new. Some people have never had the privilege of being treated as if their voices matter to those in positions of power.  As a woman, I am well acquainted with being told to lower my voice, to speak more carefully, to not be so negative, to engage in thoughtful disagreement more politely, to smile more. As a woman who came of age during the woman’s movement of the 1970s, I know a head pat and attempt at dismissal when I see one. As an ambivalent academic, I am well aware of the ways that claims of professionalism, objectivity and politeness have been used to secure the status quo and protect it from challenges by those left out by history and oppression.

“I am searching for a methodology of the heart.” (Diversi and Moreira).  What does a methodology of the heart look like? what does it sound like? is it angry and sometimes ‘rude’? does it ever ache in a space beyond words? does it make us uncomfortable, a discomfort we learn to translate into boredom or weariness? how do we listen to this methodology? when do we act from and within it?

I find myself boxed in by Pres. Tierney’s email, a box that will be familiar to those who wish to be heard from the margins. If I am angry, am I a ‘venomous’ blogger? If I note that the Secretary of Education has promulgated practices that lead to school closures, attacks on teachers unions and collective bargaining, the opening of public resources to profiteers, and the abuse of children and of education through the imposition of high stakes testing, the common core and technocratic accountability regimes am I being un-thoughtful?

I think of Freire’s pedagogy of the heart. It is teaching, at every level; it is research, wherever it happens; it is political work. It emerges from our lives, our bodies, our experiences. It is messy and discomforting and activist. It takes many shapes, uses the range of words, speaks from our bodies.  As an activist and a scholar, I will speak and act from these places. I will name injustice. I will not allow illusions of propriety to allow violence to go unnamed and its perpetrators unchallenged.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never bring about genuine change.” (Lorde, 1983, p 112)


[i] “Justice is what love looks like in public.”- Cornel West

Diversi, M. and Moreira, C. (2009). Betweener talk: decolonizing knowledge production, pedagogy, and praxis. Walnit Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Lorde, A. (1983).  The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. In. C. Morega and G.E. Anzaldúa (Eds.). This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color. New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press.