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Warner School’s David Hursh receives AERA award for social justice work in education

David Hursh receives AERA award for social justice work in education

David Hursh, a professor at the Warner School of Education, was presented with the 2023 Paulo Freire Legacy Award by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He was honored with the award for his commitment to educating for social justice during the SIG’s business meeting that took place during AERA’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Chicago April 13-16. 

The Paulo Freire Legacy Award is given to scholars and activists widely recognized for their commitment to social justice and to transforming existing structures of oppression through education. Award recipients have advanced Freirean philosophy in theory and practice and made significant contributions to the field of critical pedagogy.  

He has argued that “theory should inform practice and practice should inform theory. It is not enough to talk about the world; the point is to change it.”

Hursh, a faculty member in the Warner School’s teaching and curriculum department, began fighting for democratic schools as a university undergraduate, much of which is described in his book High-Stakes Testing: The Decline of Teaching and Learning. He has written over 100 journal articles and book chapters on topics including social studies, teaching about environmental health, action research, and higher education. Most recently, he collaborated with two Warner School students and two parents active in the New York State opt-out movement—to write Opting Out: The Story of Parents’ Grassroots Movement to Achieve Whole-Child Public Schools. The authors set out to inspire parents to become educational activists beyond standardized testing. The five-chapter volume was a 2020 American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Award winner

Over the past 25 years, Hursh has focused most of his research and writing on how neoliberal economic policies—by emphasizing markets, competition, and quantification—and high-stakes testing have undermined the quality of teaching and learning in K-12 public schools. Additionally, he has researched and written about sustainability and environmental health in the United States and Africa, which included a year-long appointment as a visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

In addition to receiving the award at the AERA Annual Meeting, Hursh held a book signing event for his publication Opting Out.