Conference Theme and Strands

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2014 Conference Theme:
Social Justice Education Out of Bounds: New Frameworks and Alliances

Contemporary education reform movements have involved increasingly standardized and privatized attempts to control public institutions and the funds that support them. Top-down initiatives, coupled with mandates that drain budgets and strain resources, have been constricting the minds, bodies, and imaginations of educators and learners. But movements to resist are growing. Across the U.S., educators, students, parents, and scholars have been organizing against high-stakes standardized testing, common core curricula, public schools closings, and the general privatization of educational processes, practices, and sites. This organizing has taken a variety of forms, united diverse groups of constituents, and involved all levels of education.
Education has always been a site of contestation, and the resistance to neoliberal educational “reform” is embedded within a long history of struggle over issues of educational access and purpose. At this year’s conference, we hope to address the history, current state, and potential promise of activism for social justice in education.
Proposals that address such topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • How are contemporary struggles for democratic education similar to and/or different from previous iterations?
  • How can movements for liberatory, critical education link up with other social justice movements such as Idle No More, Right to the City, and other activism around disability, race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality?
  • What approaches should social justice educators and activists take to support contemporary public and private education institutions? Is there space within the existing structures of these institutions for authentic reform?
  • How can other disciplines (ex. geography, sciences, literature, mathematics) inform and move forward social justice educational theory and practice?
  • How are efforts to achieve social justice and equity affected by the current reforms?
  • What role can the arts and art education play in the struggle for social justice and equity in education?

Strand: Teaching and Learning for Equity and Social Justice

Proposals in this strand might address the following questions:

  • What kinds of data are meaningful in the quest for social justice through education?
  • How is standardization affecting pre-service and in-service teachers? Students? Administrators? School systems? What does it means to be educated? How does standardization relate to our society?
  • How might the experiences of students and teachers in alternative settings inform traditional classrooms?
  • How are efforts to achieve social justice and equity affected by the current reforms?
  • What is measured by standardized assessments? How can alternate forms of assessment reveal learning not measured by standardized assessments?
  • What are the effects of assessment and curriculum standardization on student learning and teaching?
  • How can educators use data and alternative forms of assessment to resist the negative effects of standardization?

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Strand: Critical Race Studies

The notion of a post-racial era has arisen as a result of the election of nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama. Many believe racism does not exist in contemporary society, thereby dismissing the challenges experienced by Black and Brown citizens. We invite papers and workshops by researchers, educators, and scholars who critically examine racist practices, policies, micro-aggressions and other forms of oppression as they relate to critical race studies and transformative solutions in the following areas:

  • K-12 Education
  • Sociology and Philosophy of Education
  • Teacher Education

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Strand: Critical Youth Studies

This strand invites scholars from a wide variety of disciplines whose research explores contemporary discourses about childhood and youth from a critical perspective. The theme provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue, and seeks to engage historians, philosophers, and cultural and media critics, among others, in conversations that focus on the representation of young people in academic and popular discourses. Throughout American history, adults have circulated images of youth that are manipulative, hostile, and damaging. More often than not, young people are portrayed in these adult-generated discourses as either passive victims or aggressive perpetrators; rarely, however, are they depicted as being productive and capable agents in their own right, and even less frequently are they granted access to the means of representation that construct and disseminate these images. This strand welcomes additional work from scholars who are concerned about the ways in which the rights of youth (their ability to create and maintain selfhood, and their opportunities to express an emergent independence) are compromised in contemporary U.S. society. In addition, this session invites scholars whose focus of inquiry explores the cultural practices of young people themselves; especially those that that highlight how young people engage in acts of social and political resistance.
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Strand: Urban Education & Community Partnerships

The relationship of community partnerships in assisting urban community transformation is explored in this strand. Possible questions and research topics include: How are partnerships begun? How can equity and social justice be cultivated in relationships between community partners and urban schools? How are these partnerships problematic? Can the goal of urban transformation really occur?
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Strand: “Othering”

The “Othering” strand is soliciting papers and sessions from scholars and practitioners in a wider range of disciplines whose work captures how constitutive forces and cultural practices inside and outside of schools led to the marginalization of students and other social actors on the structural axes of race, social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and/or disability. This phenomenon builds one’s positive identity at the expense of someone else, the “other,” and leads to differentiation and separation (“us” vs. “them”). This strand will explore the impact of “othering” on equity and social justice, the ways in which this issue has been researched, and the strategies that have evolved from the research. The track also calls on educators, researchers, and students to share theoretical insights, empirical data, pedagogical strategies, and cultural work that have the potency to ameliorate oppression against the “Other” as well as have the power to remake schools and other social contexts on the ideals of equity, social justice and democracy.
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Strand: Genocide and Human Rights

The Genocide and Human Rights strand invites papers and sessions that address information and teaching strategies about the Nazi Holocaust, the American genocide against Native Americans, and other genocides as defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (1948) as well as varying definitions by university scholars and researchers. Papers and sessions should assist practicing and future educators, historians and scholars in understanding the cultural, political, economic and religious forces behind genocide by engaging in comparative study of genocides of the past and present and by examining the singularly horrific crime of the Shoah . Presentations should provide educators with the necessary tools to present information on the Holocaust and other genocides in an age-appropriate manner so that students understand the political, social and religious issues that give rise to acts of genocide, and how the lessons of history impact and inform possible responses to the genocides that presently exist.
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Strand: Educational Reform in the 21st Century

Proposals in this strand might consider how contemporary reform initiatives are affecting teaching and learning. How are students, teachers, teacher educators, and administrators being influenced? What are the intended and unintended consequences of policies such as Race to the Top? How are Common Core Standards, charter schools, new teacher evaluation systems, and teacher candidate assessments such as the Teacher Performance Assessment affecting the labors of students and teachers? How are attempts to seek equity and social justice factoring into educational reform movements?
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Strand: Critical Disability Studies

This strand is generally focused on understanding and challenging exclusionary and oppressive practices against the disabled and how these practices intersect with other forms of oppression and marginalization in schools and society. Proposals in this strand might look at disability oppression and resistance in relation to social movements, policy and the legal system, special education, and higher education.
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