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Is Education-Research Group Really About Advocacy?

June 14, 2010

If any doubt remained that the American Educational Research Association is about advocacy rather than objective research, its leaders ended all questions at the AERA's recent annual meeting in Denver ("Education-Research Group Puts Itself on the Border

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If any doubt remained that the American Educational Research Association is about advocacy rather than objective research, its leaders ended all questions at the AERA's recent annual meeting in Denver ("Education-Research Group Puts Itself on the Border of Advocacy," The Chronicle, May 5).

How ludicrous that the AERA's brain trust pompously announced the organization not only would boycott Arizona for adoption of an anti-illegal-immigration law but would also "disseminate research on the negative effects of the law." That pronouncement implies that only "research" reaching the desired conclusion will be released, or, perhaps more likely, that data will be cooked to produce the results needed to buttress the institutional position.

Of course, as your account noted, the AERA's political bias never has been a big secret. It was on display at its annual conference, with 136 sessions on "social justice," 96 on "diversity," 52 on "critical race theory," and 28 on "feminist theory."

Indeed, one of the leading social-justice warriors in the organization is none other than unrepentant 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers, now a Chicago education professor. In his position as the AERA's vice president of curriculum studies, Mr. Ayers advocated in the fall 2009 newsletter that "teachers, scholars, and researchers appropriately think about and consider questions of identity and positionality in our work—what history and orientation and structural ecologies create the frames through which we define ourselves and view the world? What lived experiences of privilege or oppression shape our sense of entitlement or possibility?"

If research about elementary and secondary education is becoming more about the bias of the researcher than objective analysis of what works in the classroom, that is terribly unfortunate. More than ever, parents need sound information on which to base decisions about where and how to school their children.

Robert Holland
Senior Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
Chicago

Article Tags
Education
Author
Robert Holland, a journalist and author who has championed school choice throughout his career, is a Heartland Institute Senior Fellow addressing education policy.
rholland@heartland.org @PeripateticPop