Equal Educational Opportunity: A ‘Dark Age of American Education’?

Equal Educational Opportunity: A ‘Dark Age of American Education’?

Recently the Washington Post published an article co-written by civil rights activist James Meredith.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/06/01/civil-rights-icon-james-meredith-we-are-in-a-dark-age-of-american-public-education/  Meredith makes a dramatic statement, claiming, “We are in a dark age of American education.”  This statement and others in the piece seem to me intellectually and emotionally linked to the theme of the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting.  The passage below is taken from the preamble to this year’s AERA Call for Submissions http://www.aera.net/EventsMeetings/AnnualMeeting/2017AnnualMeetingCallforPaperandSessionSubmissions/tabid/16328/Default.aspx  I encourage CPRE affiliates to read each piece and consider the implications raised by Meredith and the general questions posed by the AERA theme. 

Are we better positioned today to improve educational opportunities than we were in the past? What are the pathways to achieving equal educational opportunity? How do we transform the power of knowledge and scholarly discourses into public will, engaging practice, and responsive policy? These questions of knowledge and action to achieve equal educational opportunity will be the focus of the 2017 Annual Meeting.

 We invite AERA members to deliberate on the expanse of issues associated with equal educational opportunity and to contribute submissions that consider the following groups of questions:

• What counts as educational opportunity, for whom has it improved over the past 60 years, for whom has it not improved, and with what sustainability and potential for the future?

• How do we conceptualize educational opportunity, who is studied and who is not, and what are the implications for research, policy, and praxis of such conceptualizations?

• How do we ensure that our inquiry and research questions are relevant, and in what ways is the rigor of our research matched by the rigor of methodological frameworks and approaches, interpretation of results, and application of knowledge?

• How do we leverage knowledge from research and practice to ensure that the most pressing issues reach the forefront of major policy decisions and action, from longstanding issues of teaching and learning, to persistent problems of racial and economic inequality, to understudied topics such as homelessness and incarceration and their effects?

• What steps might research help craft across educational, social, and public policies at all levels of government and in philanthropy—and what partnerships are needed—to reimagine equity and reduce the risks faced by students, families, schools, and related institutions?

I encourage all educators to draw on your experience and insights and respond to one or more of these questions, which cut to the fundamental praxis of our sacred work:  to educate and serve all children in our charge.

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