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Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education

Making Scholarship Matter

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Edited By Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin and Cynthia Reyes

While the term «public intellectual» has been used to describe scholars who seek to share their re-search with the public, little work has been done to examine the role of a public intellectual in the field of education. This book builds upon the notion of the public intellectual in a way that makes the term more accessible, using it to refer to education scholars who seek to share their research outside of academia. Media coverage of educational issues is rife with self-appointed experts on education who have claimed space in public discussions to define educational problems and dominate public dialogues on education. But where are the education researchers in these academic dialogues? This book addresses their absence, sharing the stories of scholars who are seeking to enter public dialogues and reclaim space for reasoned dialogue on education. The stories of public scholars highlighted here acknowledge that the policymaking arena is teeming with value conflicts that can lead to dismissing or ignoring research if it does not fit with political agendas.
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Chapter One: Crisscrossing From Classrooms to Cartoons: Social Science Satire

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Crisscrossing from Classrooms to Cartoons

Social Science Satire

MICHAEL F. GIANGRECO



INTRODUCTION

Within my chosen field—special education—I am known to a substantial set of individuals (many of whom become flustered at the mere prospect of attempting to correctly spell or pronounce my last name) simply as the cartoon guy. I have accepted and even come to embrace this somewhat anonymous moniker, recognizing that my influence on public discourse is now inextricably linked to my work creating a collection of satirical cartoons that lampoon the absurdities and realities of special education (Giangreco, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007). Despite a traditional academic scholarship record that includes a line of empirical research about inclusive education for students with disabilities and nearly 200 publications (e.g., peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and book chapters) dating back to 1982, it has been the translation of research findings and related issues about special education into cartoons that has struck a chord in the field among professionals from a variety of education and allied health disciplines, families who have children with disabilities, and policymakers.

Cartoons can serve as an effective, albeit unconventional, vehicle to extend the reach of conventionally published research findings to a broader audience in ways people seem to enjoy and remember. In this chapter I describe (a) the early experiences that positioned me to satirize my own field, (b) the reasons I extended my work from...

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