Join the WERA Network at OISE for a CSSE Preconference on Community Advocacy in/for Education, Toronto, May 2017

Join us for an international dialogue on Community Advocacy in/for Education!

As a co-director of the WERA International Research Network on Families, Educators and Communities as Educational Advocates, I’m very pleased to invite you to participate in a unique discussion between advocates in/for education and academic researchers who study educational advocacy.  The free day-long event will take place on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Canadian Society for Studies in Education’s (CSSE) annual conference at Ryerson University begins the following day.

We envision a series of roundtable discussions that involve researchers and advocates from across and beyond Canada sharing their current work in educational advocacy, providing constructive feedback to each other, and developing questions for future work.  Everyone who attends should come prepared to share their expertise and experiences.

If you would like to contribute to this exciting day, please send me, Sue Winton, a brief paragraph that outlines how your work relates to educational advocacy to by January 31, 2017 (email: Please note that our Network adopts a very broad definition of community, and we welcome people from diverse organizations and sectors. If you know others who might be interested in participating, please let Sue know.  A formal acceptance and an agenda for the day will be sent to all participants once contributors are confirmed.  We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!




WERA symposia at CSSE, May 27-31, 2017, Toronto

If you would like to present a paper as part of a symposia with other members of our Network at the Canadian Society for Studies in Education (CSSE), please send Sue Winton a 250 word abstract by September 15, 2016 (  Sue. Lauri, and Howard will then review the nature and number of submissions and determine if/how to put together one or more symposia around our Network’s theme of educational advocacy.  Abstracts should include the paper’s  (a) purpose; (b) perspective(s) or theoretical framework; (c) methods and/or techniques; (d) data source(s); (e) results, conclusions and/or interpretations; and (f) educational importance of the study.

We will let you know by September 17, 2016, what we have decided based on the submissions from our network. At that time, we may ask for modifications to your abstract to enable cohesion across multiple papers or ask you to submit an individual paper proposal.

Please contact Sue if you have any questions. We hope to see you in Toronto in May 2017!

WERA meetup at ECER- Mulligan’s

Thanks to everyone who presented and attended the WERA pre conference yesterday on Advocacy and the Activist Professional at the Irish National Teachers Organization.  It was a great day. If you are attending ECER this week and would like to meet up with network members to talk about upcoming events and possible collaborations, we will be gathering at Mulligan’s, 8 Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2 on Wednesday night, August 24th at 9:30 PM.

Hope to see you there,

Lauri, Sue, and Howard


WERA Sessions at ECER -August, 2016

If you plan to attend ECER in Dublin, we invite you to check out our two WERA symposiums:

1) Advocacy for Educational Policy Change: Strategies, Trajectories, and Lessons from Diverse Actors in Four Countries

Anna Sullivan, Lauri Johnson, Sue Winton, Michelle Milani, Iris Bitton, Dorit Tubin,Terry Wilkinson, Michael Evans, Andrew Saultz

ECER 2016, 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education, Session: 23 SES 10 B

Thursday, August 25th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM Room NM-NT1

2) Emerging Paradigms and Practices in Leadership for Social Justice: Advocacy, Activism, and Indigenous Culturally Responsive Leadership

Allison Milner, Andréanne Gélinas Proulx, Charles Slater, Patricia Silva, Vicky Cerdas, Gema Lopez Gorosave, Reginald D. Wilkerson, Camille M. Wilson, Lauri Johnson, Muhammad Khalifa, Deena Khalil, Tyson Marsh, Clare Halloran

ECER 2016, 07. Social Justice and Intercultural Education, Session: 07 SES 13 D JS

Friday, August 26th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM, Room OB-H1.51

Hope to see you there!

Lauri, Sue, and Howard

ABSTRACTS. Advocacy and the activist professional: Public education in tough times

For the full programme – click here or download WERA Network Programme.

Abstracts below:

Why, if it’s kicking off everywhere, is it not kicking off where I am? Making sense of ‘resistance’ in the neoliberal school system.

Howard Stevenson (University of Nottingham)

Times are tough – but that does not always result in teachers speaking back to reforms in the ways that we might expect, or indeed hope for. In this paper I explore why teachers sometimes resist, and often times don’t, and why they always behave unpredictably. In arguing we have to analyse consent as much as we try to understand resistance I will argue that those involved in activism and organising need to act as ‘organisers of ideas’ if teachers are to develop progressive collective responses to the neoliberal restructuring of public education systems.


Equity Is Not Enough:  Seeking Persuasive Arguments for Policy Change

Sue Winton (York University, Canada)

I present findings from research that examined the persuasive arguments mobilized by People for Education (P4E), an educational advocacy group in Ontario, Canada, in three campaigns over the past two decades.  The campaigns aimed to change government policies related to school fundraising, school fees, and special education assessments.

The campaigns had different outcomes: the government banned school fees and school practices changed; a fundraising policy was introduced but school practices did not change (indeed fundraising may have intensified to offset funds lost through the change in school fees policy); and special education assessment policy remains unchanged.  Examining the campaigns in their socio-historical contexts, Ontarians and its Liberal government appear to support equal opportunity (which explains changes after the new school fees policy) but are not persuaded by arguments to ensure equity.  Indeed, the appearance of equal opportunity is necessary to legitimate Ontarian’s belief in meritocracy and the inequities it produces.

I hope these findings inspire a conversation with audience members about persuasive arguments in policy advocacy since the argument for equity does not, on its own, appear to matter enough to change inequitable practices.



Rethinking “advocacy” and “activism” in parent empowerment: What do we mean across national contexts?

Lauri Johnson (Boston College, MA)

This presentation and discussion will explore different ways that researchers have looked at parent involvement/empowerment in different national contexts.  It will mostly draw on studies from US, Canada, and UK, but will also include studies from Hong Kong, Maori families in New Zealand, Eastern Europe, & South Africa.


Teacher unionism in Scotland: union renewal as co-construction

Nina Bascia (OISE, Canada)

Education policy in Scotland has developed in ways that are much closer to its Northern European counterparts, than, for example, its immediate UK neighbour, England.  Scottish education policy has retained a strong commitment to local government provision and for many years has set itself against curriculum prescription, standardised testing and privatisation.  This has often been presented as a direct repudiation of ‘the neoliberal agenda’ (national policy officer and project interviewee).

The focus of this paper is the Educational Institute of Scotland.  It will focus on how the union has engaged with government, and through this relationship between labour and the state has  co-constructed a consensus that has challenged the trajectory of neoliberal reform.  The paper will particularly focus on the ways that the union has sought to fuse professional and industrial issues, and its innovative use of ‘union learning representatives’ to engage members around a wide range of issues (Alexandrou, 2009).

The paper will explore the tensions inherent in such a strategy, and in particular the challenges now presented by a policy agenda that is developing in new and potentially threatening ways (see for example the introduction of standardised testing and possible emergence of league tables).


Getting actively involved in a trade union: the experiences of young teacher activists.

Alison Gilliland (Senior official, INTO)

This presentation will explore the preliminary findings of one particular aspect of my doctoral research into young teacher union activists – the influences, experiences and contexts that led to them becoming actively involved in their union.


Social Justice and Migrant Families in Spain

Dr Patricia Silva (University of Llerida), Dr Serafin Antunez (University of Barcelona) and Dr Charles Slater (California State University Long Beach)

Corresponding author:

Schools today have the challenge and commitment to address the problems arising from the economic crisis and changes in the social structure which are a product of the migration of entire families. Teachers have had to learn quickly on issues related to social justice and management of resources to care for children. This study from Spain provides data on how schools make every effort to implement meritorious professional practices to: (i) assist students in academic and social aspects; (ii) promote and implement the participation and collaboration with families; (iii) review and improve educational processes, organizational processes and performance management; and (iv) improve relations between the school and the community.


PROGRAMME. Advocacy and the activist professional: Public education in tough times

Venue and date: Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), 35 Parnell Sq, Dublin 1. Monday August 22, 2016.

The event is organised by WERA Researching families, educators and communities as educational advocates: cross national perspectives research network. For further details about the network visit

This event is FREE. We are very grateful to INTO for hosting and supporting this event.

There is still time to register. REGISTER HERE.


9.30-10.00 Registration and coffee/tea.

10.00-11.00 Opening presentation and discussion.

Howard Stevenson (University of Nottingham) Why, if it’s kicking off everywhere, is it not kicking off where I am? Making sense of ‘resistance’ in the neoliberal school system.

This will be a presentation, followed by questions and structured small group discussion.


Sue Winton (York University, Toronto) Equity Is not enough: Seeking persuasive arguments for policy change


Short comfort break


Lauri Johnson (Boston College, MA) Rethinking “advocacy” and “activism” in parent empowerment: What do we mean across national contexts?




Nina Bascia (OISE, Toronto) Teacher unionism in Scotland: union renewal as co-construction

Alison Gilliland (Irish National Teachers’ Organisation) Getting actively involved in a trade union: the experiences of young teacher activists.


Patricia Silva (University of Llerida), Serafin Antunez (University of Barcelona) and Charles Slater (California State University Long Beach) Social Justice and Migrant Families in Spain.

Plenary – panel and discussion.

An opportunity to reflect on the day, further discuss the issues arising and think through the implications for the Network’s research agenda.

Abstracts can be accessed here.


Close, followed by . . .

Following the formal events we will retire to the Teachers’ Club for much more informal discussion of the day’s proceedings. The Teachers’ Club is located in the same building as the seminar. Everyone attending the seminar is welcome.

The Network will then be having an early evening meal in Dublin centre. Again, all are welcome, but please email in advance so we can make a reservation. Restaurant details will be provided on the day.

August 22, 2016 Advocacy and the Activist Professional: Public Education in Tough Times

The World Education Research Association Research Network ‘Researching families, educators and communities as educational advocates: cross-national perspectives’ will be holding a one day pre-conference workshop at ECER 2016. The workshop will be on 22nd August (ECER conference commences on 23rd August).  This event is being supported by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and will be hosted at INTO’s headquarters in the heart of Dublin city.  The event will be attended by local educators as well as researchers/scholars.

 This workshop will focus on those working in a range of professional contexts (as teachers, school leaders, and researchers for example) and explore the different ways they seek to act and mobilise in order to make the case for public education.  Public education faces many challenges, from austerity driven cuts to more explicitly ideological attacks such as privatisation. In this workshop we will explore what ‘activism’ looks like in diverse contexts. Presentations will focus on the Republic of Ireland, and internationally.

The workshop is intended as a pre-conference event to the ECER 2016 conference in Dublin. However, registration is open to all. It is not necessary to be an ECER delegate – indeed we positively welcome the involvement of those outside of the academic community.

The event is FREE – with lunch. REGISTER HERE.


Proposals should be in the form of a title, list of presenters (with email addresses) and an abstract(maximum 300 words) outlining the key elements of the work to be presented (sent as a Word file). Submit proposals to Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham, UK, via email ( with ‘WERA workshop’ in the title line.  The deadline for submissions is 30th June 2016, but early submissions are strongly encouraged.

Attendance is open to non-presenters, but numbers will be limited and priority will be given to presenters.The final programme will be published shortly after the closing date for presentations. For informal enquiries about any aspect of the above – please contact Howard directly.


WERA symposium at AERA 2016-Monday, April 11, 11:45AM – 1:15 PM-Convention Center, Level One, Room 154 B

If you plan to be at AERA in Washington DC in April join us for our first WERA symposium which brings together scholarship and perspectives on educational advocacy from seven national contexts:

“International Scholarship And Perspectives On/For Educational Advocacy”

Papers include:

1) Challenging Special Education Assessment Policy In Ontario, Canada’s Public Schools

The first paper presents findings from a critical policy analysis of the ways People for Education (P4E), a CBO in Ontario, Canada, has engaged in a decades-long struggle over special education assessment policy in the province.

Sue Winton and Lauren Jervis, York University, Canada

2) The Lives and Identities of Black and South Asian Headteachers in the UK: 1968 – 2015

The second paper examines how headteachers of color in the UK construct their role as leaders and advocates and how their professional identities and practices are shaped by their life experiences and the contexts in which they lead.

Lauri Johnson, Boston College, USA

3) Changing Unions in Challenging Times: Advocacy, Democracy and Union Renewal

The third paper reports findings from an international study exploring how teachers’ unions in New Zealand and Scotland are changing as they adapt to changed circumstances and how they are finding new ways to protect teacher professionalism in difficult times.

Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham, UK and Nina Bascia, University of Toronto, Canada

4) Everyday Activism In Extraordinary Times: School Leaders Advocating For Public Education In England

The final paper examines how school leaders in England advocate for public education in a neoliberal policy context.

Steven Courtney and Ruth McGinity, University of Manchester, UK

Discussants will provide commentary on educational advocacy from their own national context:

Camille Wilson, University of Michigan, USA

Radhika Gorur, Deakin University, Australia

John Williamson, University of Tasmania, Australia

Maija Salokangas, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland



Special Issue: Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives

Lauri Johnson and Sue Winton, co-convenors of this network have edited a special issue of Leadership and Policy in Schools. This is volume 15, number 1 and it is available now.

The journal includes articles by the editors and by several others including Dennis Shirley and Rodney Hopson with Peter Miller and Temple S. Lovelace. A full list of contents is here.

The publication makes a significant contribution to the developing work of this Network.

Immediate next steps in Network activity are that Lauri Johnson and Howard Stevenson will be presenting at the next BELMAS Critical Educational Policy and Leadership Studies meeting at the University of Nottingham on Saturday 13th February –—13th-Feb-2016/32088.  Each will present on their article in the special issue.

The Network also has a symposium at the WERA focal meeting taking place alongside the American Educational Research Association annual meeting.   Full details of the Network’s presence at WERA/AERA will be on this website shortly. Click ‘Follow’ on the blog to be emailed whenever there is a new post.

Network symposiums at ECER 2016 – call for proposals

Dear WERA Education Advocacy Network Members*,

We aim for our new WERA network to have a strong presence at ECER 2016 in Dublin, Ireland in August 2016. To that end, we are inviting network members to submit a 400 word abstract for a single authored or co-authored paper proposal which relates to one of our network themes:

  1. Family- Community Engagement
  2. Community Organizing
  3. Teacher and Teacher Union Activism
  4. Leadership for Advocacy

Because all ECER symposium proposals must include papers from at least 3 countries, we need broad international participation by network members to construct panels.

Please send abstracts by Jan. 4th to Lauri Johnson ( and Sue Winton ( to provide time for the convenors to write and submit symposium proposals by the Jan. 15th deadline. We will do our best to create symposia that include all submissions but individuals may be asked to submit individual paper proposals if it is not possible for us to do so.

If you are not interested in presenting a paper but would like to be a chair or discussant for one of the panels, let us know that too.

Thanks, Lauri, Sue, and Howard

* Not a member? If you are interested in the work of this Network and want to be kept informed about what we are doing simply email Lauri Johnson to be added to the email list.