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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 Twelve: Reimagining the Public Intellectual In Education: Making Scholarship Matter

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← 138 | 139 → CHAPTER TWELVE

Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education

Making Scholarship Matter

CYNTHIA REYES AND CYNTHIA GERSTL-PEPIN



INTRODUCTION

We began this book project because we both were concerned about the lack of connection between academic research in education and the public’s understanding of the challenges facing education. We had many conversations about the lack of alignment between our deep knowledge of education in connection to research we had conducted and the many challenges facing our culture in terms of poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia. For us, the concern centers on the overly simplistic way these educational issues have been represented and misrepresented in the news media and public policy arenas. Both of us have sought to work as public scholars in macro arenas through radio guest appearances, legislative testimony and briefs, policy advocacy at the national level, and engaging the news media outlets, as well as micro arenas such as local district policy committees. Our engagement in these areas highlighted for us the political nature of the field of education research and the critical need for educational researchers to make connections between the academic world in which we worked and taught and the communities in which we lived. We yearned to capture the stories of other public scholars who struggled with how to make their research meaningful beyond academic arenas.

Through the course of this project we learned many things from our contributors in terms...

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