"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 21, 2013

AERA's Bill Tierney: Clueless Per Usual

Ever since Bill Tierney began his not-so-subtle business-friendly nods to the austerity zealots and the plutocrats who think they know more about education than educators, his emails to the AERA membership have consistently shown him to be a neoliberal do-gooder who has no notion of what it means to do social science research that matters to the educational, political, and cultural health of democratic societies.

Here's an example from near the end of his latest email that offers a failed opportunity to take up the subject of poverty in a way that would lay down a challenge to researchers and academics:
I am suggesting that, based on our mission, we must not simply produce high-quality research with various theoretical frames and methodologies. We must engage directly with policy makers and local communities, and we must take part in thoughtful dialogue with people who disagree with us. . .
Here Tierney offers us a classic false dichotomy of either doing rigorous research that upholds some element of the theoretical and/or methodological canon, or become an activist along with the local community organizers.  Tierney misses the opportunity to suggest that researchers may, indeed, do rigorous research without divorcing it from the concerns and needs of the oppressed and non-privileged.  

So here, then, is a short list of questions that could become research questions for any doctoral student looking to do solid, non-ideological research that could have some relevance in improving people's lives and the quality of our struggling democracy:

Free Dissertation Topics that Matter:
“Altering the World by Raising Questions”
 Jim Horn

Want to write the shortest education dissertation of the Century? Topic: What is the federal or state role in encouraging, pleading for, mandating, funding, or otherwise supporting integrated, or pluralistic, public schools?

How do zero-tolerance policies in schools affect students, teachers, administrators, and school culture?

Some talk of a curriculum caste system emerging in America.  How do urban and suburban school curriculum and instruction differ?

How does the school-to-prison pipeline work?

What happened to Diane Ravitch?  What were the factors that influenced her change of heart and mind in relation to the education reform agenda?

What role do billionaires play in the way public education is conducted?

How are community organizing efforts in  _____________________ related to school improvement?

When does the same education reform repeated over decades stop being a reform and begins to be the status quo?

What is the influence of U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Roundtable in shaping American education policy?

How do Americans understand the purpose and aims of public schools?

How does mass media shape the public perception of schools?

How did the Long Island principals’ revolt happen?

How does the use of student test scores for teacher evaluation affect school culture and student-teacher relations?

How do education reform movements like United Opt Out and Parents Across America get started and established?

How does the print media and non-print media cover education issues?

If poor schools need the most competent, professional, and experienced teachers, why do they have the least prepared and most inexperienced ones?

What is the Teach for America teaching and organizational experience?

Why are there no KIPP schools or KIPP teaching methods in the leafy suburbs?

Why is total compliance behavior more important in KIPP schools than academics?

How does school culture shape students’ understanding of themselves?

What do children learn about themselves and the world in total compliance learning environments?

If science and technology are important, why do many poor schools have no functional science labs or computers?

Charter schools: Where did the library go? 

How have public schools fared on the NAEP and on college entrance exams since the inception of the high-stakes testing era, in comparison to earlier times?

What role does socioeconomic integration play in American schooling?

What is the scientific basis for value-added assessment systems?

What is the impact of using student test scores to evaluate teachers?

Who benefits from venture philanthropy?

How do corporate foundations influence American education?

What is the educational value of collective bargaining?

When the same education reform strategy is used forty years, is it still reform or the status quo?

What criteria are valid in measuring teacher and school effectiveness?

How can value-added assessment be used effectively and ethically?

If the teacher is the single most important school variable in determining student achievement, what other variables are there?  Why don’t our evaluations take other variables like poverty, safety, health, economic status, or class into account?

What choices do students and parents have when it comes to taking or not taking state-mandated tests?

What strategies and tactics do administrators and teachers use to raise test scores?

What are the developmental issues complicating the use of high stakes testing in early grades?

How have students benefited from testing, and how have they been harmed from testing since NCLB?
What is the policy history of the Common Core, or national curriculum movement?

Who benefits from the standardization of the state or national curriculum?

Have Supplemental Education Services been a boom or bust for student learning?

What ideological and economic incentives shaped Reading First?

Which reading strategies have been demonstrated to be the most effective?

What is the science behind single-sex schooling?

How do poverty and homelessness affect student learning?

Does stereotype threat exist in K-12 schools?

How do testing policies favor some groups and oppress others?

How do principals know that a teacher is effective?

How does the institution of school affect the Constitutional rights of children?

Can censorship be justified in schools?

How do teachers define ethical teaching? Ethical leadership?

How do administrators define ethical leadership? Ethical teaching?

How are teachers prepared to teach in _________________? Does teacher preparation matter?

What kind of research influences American education policy? 

What is the history of school privatization efforts in America?

What kind of options do parents have to do not want their children exposed to high-stakes testing? 

How is film documentary shaping American education policy?

How do high school exit exams affect high school graduation rates?

How do family income, wealth, and whiteness affect standardized test scores?

1 comment:

  1. The there is Duncan's invite to the AERA conference:


    and some organizing: