On February 18, 2015, the Representative Council of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) voted to endorse the Social Publishers Foundation. The endorsement came after a presentation to the SDEA Council by SPF Board Members Lonnie Rowell and Ron Breen. This council includes elected representatives from each school site within the San Diego Unified School District. Prior to the presentation and Council vote, the SDEA Board of Directors voted to support a recommendation of endorsement by the union’s Representative Council in January 2015.
Established in 1922, SDEA is the second largest education union in California and represents more than 7,000 educators working in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 in San Diego Unified. SDEA is affiliated with the California Teachers Association, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO. San Diego Unified is the 19th largest school district in the US with more than 200 schools.
The Foundation is pleased to have been endorsed by SDEA. We know how hard educators in America’s public school systems work. We believe that through a broad-based democratization of the knowledge associated with strengthening educational practice and implementing school reform, the needs of students, parents and educators can be addressed in a fair and well-informed manner. The answer to today’s educational challenges is not to attack educators or their unions. Rather, the answer will be found through closing the gap between research and practice and supporting the development of the practice wisdom that comes with years of experience working in education.
The California-based Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) has initiated the soft-launch of the foundation’s website. The website supports the foundation’s mission of encouraging and supporting practitioners in education, social services, community development and healthcare in the production and dissemination of practice-based knowledge. According to Board President Lonnie Rowell, “the foundation’s approach is based on an understanding that the poor morale among educators and social service providers is not just about money. With increasing pressures associated with calls for greater accountability, those working ‘in the trenches’ of education and social services often feel left out of the conversation about best practices. Too often, ‘local’ knowledge based on accumulated practice wisdom is shown little respect.” The foundation’s view is that a more inclusive approach to knowledge production is needed in the search for creative solutions to pressing social problems in local, national, and global contexts.
The foundation’s website combines crowdfunding for practitioner-initiated research projects with knowledge mobilization and dissemination for educators and human service and healthcare providers such as classroom teachers, counselors, social workers, health care providers, and community workers. The website includes applications for crowdfunding of practitioner research projects and for publishing already completed practitioner research. In addition, practitioners also may apply for crowdfunding of product development based on previously completed practitioner research.
All work published on the foundation’s website is owned by the authors and can be published in other outlets as well. Items published in other outlets also can be published on the SPF website, provided that authors have permission to do this. The long-range goal of the foundation is to support innovation in democratizing knowledge production and dissemination. As Board President Rowell puts it, “we want teachers, counselors, youth workers, and human service providers in general to be acknowledged for the work they do and the knowledge they produce week in and week out. In short, we intend to serve those who serve our children, youth and families.”
In August 2014, the Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA) and the Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding based on their shared interest in supporting practitioner and participatory research. The agreement calls for the two groups to operate as partners in several areas, including sponsorship of ARNA annual conferences, featured presentations at ARNA conferences, the awarding of a Travel Grant by the foundation to a practitioner-researcher whose work has been featured on the SPF website, and the sharing of links on the group’s respective websites.
Action research is most often a joint enterprise where the research question is shared amongst participant researchers. When we engage in action research, we learn with and from one another. We learn about the experiences, challenges, and contexts of others, and in turn we learn more deeply about ourselves. We are influenced by the research we engage in, and we influence that same research activity because we inquire into things we care about and into problems we want to solve.
The 2015 International Conference of the Action Research Network of the Americas will ask participants to reflect on: the relationships that we build and foster in collaborative and participatory action research: the roles we play in this work together; our relationships with one another; our shared intentions and tensions; as well as the nexus of multi-membership that is inherent in the action research process.
Action research leads to joint learning. And the ARNA 2015 conference provides an international layer to this joint learning as we broaden and deepen our understandings of the transformative power of action research globally. ARNA 2015 will provoke action researchers to consider the many layers of research collaboration and action in a collegial spirit of learning with and from one another. Please join us May 8-10, 2015!
For more information, go to the ARNA website.
SPF Advisory Board Member Margaret Riel has completed the 9th in a series of twelve Action Research Tutorials. The 9th tutorial addresses the role of reflection in writing about action research. The series is available for free and can be used by individuals, groups, or action research classes. Each 6-13 minute video tutorial includes an overview of the topic, activities, and resources to support the activities. Margaret invites the sharing of other multimedia action research resources that might be featured in future updates of the tutorials. She is a strong advocate for web-based learning tools that support teaching oneself about action research. For more information, contact Margaret at [email protected] or visit Research Tutorials at the Center for Collaborative Action Research.
Graduate students at the University of San Diego, working in collaboration with faculty advisor Lonnie Rowell, have established a website for action research in school counseling. The website features action research projects completed by graduate students in school counseling from around North America. A growing list of Affiliate Programs includes, in addition to University of San Diego, Cal State University, East Bay, in Hayward, California; Chaminade University of Honolulu; Chapman University in Orange County, California; and Saint Marys College of California. The site also includes a variety of resources for use in conducting action research in school counseling as well as an Action Research Virtual Laboratory for sharing ideas, discussing new perspectives and conducting experiments in action research. Visit the site for further information.