Leveraging Education Research in a Post-Truth Era: Rounding Up AERA 2019

Working through conference season, this week we reflect on and offer a roundup of some of the compelling work coming out of this year’s AERA conference. There conference theme, “Leveraging Education Research in a Post-Truth Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence,” led to a diversity of presentations on educational change, international education, and many other areas. Below, we highlight just a few of these sessions.



A number of panels featured examinations of immigration and education issues, focusing on education policy and transnational identity.

How Immigration and Education Policy Collide in a “Post-Truth” Era

This panel featured scholars such as Rebecca Lownhaupt and Ariana Mangual-Figueroa discussing a large-scale project investigating education policy since Trump’s election.

Although immigration and education policies intersect in many ways, policy discourses generally focus on each as separate spheres of influence on the educational experiences of immigrant youth. This symposium brings these two spheres into conversation. Particularly at this moment in time, when immigration policies are rapidly changing and have widespread implications for immigrant communities in the United States and beyond, this symposium will provide an opportunity to explore how an anti-immigrant policy agenda intersects with education policies as they unfold in schools, communities, and institutes of higher education.

Immigration and Immigrants in the Trump Era

In a similar vein, a number of papers focusing on critical education and social justice explored everything from attitudes toward immigrant students to analysing child protection cases.

Examining Truths About Immigrant Student Success: Studying the Internationals Network for Public Schools

Another panel looked at the work of the Internationals Network.

The objective of this session is to better understand practices in place within the Internationals Network for Public Schools, a national network of public secondary schools designed to serve the needs of recently arrived immigrant youth. Immigrant youth face many challenges when arriving in the United States (language acquisition, acculturation, and maintaining ties with their family members abroad) which contribute to making immigrant youth vulnerable to school failure (Olneck, 2006; Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, & Todorova, 2008). Internationals schools have been uniquely successful in educating recently immigrated youth. Presentations within the symposium describe the accomplishments of the Internationals Network as well as some of the key practices and mechanisms underlying their success with recently immigrated youth.


Educational Change

Changing the Grammar of Schooling? An Examination of Reform

Our own work was featured in a symposium that revisited the concept of the grammar of schooling. Our paper took up an international lens to look at efforts to change in New York City and Singapore.

Various educational reform efforts attempt to shift us away from the century old grammar of schooling, as described by Tyack and Cuban (1995). These include personalized learning, blended schools, deeper learning schools, and more. These efforts have been written up favorably by proponents, and conversely decried by ideological opponents who see them as the harbinger of privatization and neo-liberalism. This session provide a dispassionate, research-based, analysis of the forces that inhibit and promote changing the grammar of schooling. Four empirical papers will consider changes to pedagogy and classroom practice, as well as school-level factors and the broader political ecology. Two commentaries will be provided by leaders in the field of school change.

Leveraging Research to Advance Educational Justice in Latin America

Another symposium featured work from Santiago Rincon-GallardoSantiago Rincon-Gallardo and Michael Fullan.

This symposium will discuss how educational justice is being advanced in educational systems in Latin America, and the role that research is playing and can play to advance educational justice across the region. It will feature examples of efforts to transform pedagogy, leadership practice, and school-community relationships across schools in historically marginalized communities in Argentina, Chile Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay. Presenters will discuss the role their research is playing and could play in advancing educational justice, a role that ranges from documenting and bringing visibility to the voices of subaltern actors (students, teachers, communities), to engaging in participatory action research to work alongside educators and communities to advance more and better educational opportunities with and for historically marginalized groups.

International Studies SIG

Other papers took up international education issues broadly. The International Studies Special Interest Group showcased work on the “exchange of information among educators involved in research, planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of international studies.”

Scholars Disrupting Higher Education Research Status Quo in Indonesia, Myanmar, Rwanda, and the United Kingdom

This symposium deals with a major challenge for education internationally: how researchers can elucidate the problems of structural racism and exclusion in ways that “talk back” to contemporary right-wing populism and scientism to advance social equity in education. It addresses this challenge by bringing together an international group of scholars trained in the USA, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK and drawing on different data sets to compare different theoretical and methodological approaches to social equity research internationally, including quantitative intersectional research, visual methods, case studies, narrative and critical quantitative methods, to advance social justice in education.

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