Thousands of education researchers convened Friday in Denver for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Those who scan the blogs or pay attention to leaflets outside near the convention hotels may have learned of another gathering to talk education policy -- but this conclave took place in a restaurant and featured perspectives to the right of many of those at the AERA. Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute was the co-host and promoted the event by poking fun at some AERA papers' titles, noting in his blog that he offers a special award for AERA paper titles that use the word "epistemic" twice. The event featured various discussions about education and was designed to bring together wonks, scholars and journalists. Via e-mail, Hess said it was "really a chance to connect with folks for conversation, as I find AERA's panels and presentations a lousy use of time but do want to connect with a bunch of friends and colleagues to catch up and talk shop."
Of course, as Hess noted, he was named several years ago to the AERA annual meeting program committee so he is technically "in the damn conference leadership." Further, he's on the program, on a panel on "market-based reform efforts within state and federal educational policies." He said that the AERA's leaders have been welcoming. "It's more the culture of the membership that's inhospitable, and which deters most of the folks in my intellectual circle from sliding into town," he said.