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Constancy and Change: An Editorial Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2021

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Editorial Introduction
Copyright © 2021 History of Education Society

This issue of the History of Education Quarterly (HEQ) marks an editorial transition. The journal's home has moved from the University of Washington, where HEQ received excellent stewardship for five years, to the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

During the transition that began in summer 2019, our new editorial team anticipated certain challenges. Fortunately, we inherited a well-organized system created by the outgoing team of Nancy Beadie, Joy Williamson-Lott, Kathy Nicholas, and Isaac Gottesman, who provided blueprints for everything from manuscript intake to final distribution.

What none of us anticipated during the transition, however, was that the world would turn upside down. By the time HEQ changed hands in July 2020, the United States was roiled in conflict over racial inequality, remained in the grip of the global coronavirus pandemic, and was facing a highly contested presidential election. At the same time, changes in academic publishing began moving faster than any of us expected. Cambridge University Press, for example, has recently announced plans to expand Open Access for its journals through a variety of agreements with US and non-US institutions.

With this as backdrop, our vision for HEQ responds to the importance of continuity and the pressures for change, both in form and in function. On the one hand, we have every interest in preserving the well-deserved reputation that the journal established under past editorships. To our minds, the journal must and will continue to serve as a leading international, peer-reviewed outlet for historians of education. On the other hand, merely replicating what has served HEQ well in previous decades will not automatically secure a viable future. Emerging challenges require new solutions.

In light of this, we envision the journal not only serving as an outlet for historical scholarship of the highest quality but also as a venue that brings historians into direct conversation with current trends in wider research and policy communities. We want to make HEQ essential for professionals within and beyond history of education circles to read, reflect on, and cite. We plan to achieve this vision through work that can help us make sense of our era's most pressing problems as well as through innovations in the organization and delivery of the journal's content.

In terms of scholarship, our team will prioritize submissions that both contribute to our understanding of the past and creatively shed light on current challenges. A long line of work in our field has struck this balance without compromising the integrity of the historical research process, and we aim to extend that tradition by encouraging submissions that emphasize urgent questions facing all levels and forms of education. Our editorial team has a particular interest in the themes of identity and inequality, accountability and autonomy, public health and the environment, costs and finance, and the problems and promises of technology. Across all of these areas, we seek works that look increasingly outward—situating histories of education more fully within global history.

To highlight some of these priorities, we have organized several special issues for volume 61 of the journal. The present issue, our first, concentrates on race and education, with a particular focus on African American education. While we recognize that no direct parallels can be made between events past and present, we also acknowledge the current Black Lives Matter movement to be part of a long-standing struggle to affirm the value, dignity, and security of the Black community. In that spirit, this issue speaks to the ongoing struggle for equality within the Black community and to the future we might collectively make.

Our second and third issues will continue to focus on identity and inequality. Associate Editor Christopher Carlsmith has spearheaded a special issue on gender and socialization in medieval and early modern education. Contributing authors take us back to neglected periods in our field and offer new perspectives on the ways in which schooling has shaped opportunity. The third issue of 2021 examines economic inequality, analyzing past attempts to expand and retract access to higher education through tuition policy and the politics of taxation. The histories in that issue deepen our understanding of present efforts to reduce student debt and the cost of college, underscoring the importance of the past.

As these three special issues suggest, our editorial team is interested in organizing the manuscripts we receive into themes whenever possible. Doing so gives us all an opportunity to think through selected topics in greater depth and with greater coherence. When we see submitted works coalescing around an engaging theme, we will do our best to put them together. But our first priority is to treat all manuscripts—whether solicited or unsolicited—with the same standard of care. This includes a rigorous internal review and double-blind external review, ensuring the kind of high-quality research articles readers expect from HEQ. No works are exempted from this process, regardless of topic or author.

In terms of innovations, and in keeping with our editorial vision, the journal will now include a new feature: Policy Dialogues. This feature will pair historians of education with scholars in policy-related fields to explore the intersection between what once was and what might be. These conversations will be animated by such questions as: How might urgencies of the present shape the questions we ask about the past? How might story lines with longer arcs change the way we conceive of the future? And how should scholars approach the task of thinking across space and time? Our goal with these exchanges is to stimulate dynamic conversations about important topics through spirited and informed exchanges. For HEQ's inaugural Policy Dialogue, we are honored to include in this issue a lively conversation between James Anderson of the University of Illinois and Gloria Ladson-Billings of the University of Wisconsin.

Other HEQ innovations planned for this year include expanding the journal's digital footprint. Generous support from UMass Lowell has made it possible to fund editorial assistants who are working with authors to expand the reach of their scholarship by announcing updates on Twitter, editing Wikipedia entries to include recent work from the journal, and creating short-form versions of HEQ articles. In addition, the journal will soon announce the launch of a podcast called HEQ+A. The goal of the podcast is to bring scholarship from HEQ to a broader audience, highlighting the importance of history and enhancing the influence of historians.

Our overall vision, in short, includes a healthy dose of continuity and change. We remain committed to leading HEQ with the same care and consideration that prior editorial teams established as a standard. While we recognize the journal's strong scholarly foundation, decades-long in the making, the challenges now facing academic publishing call for creative experimentation and risk-taking. We envision HEQ as a venue for stimulating new discussions, opening up new lines of inquiry, and shedding the clarifying light of the past onto our current context. With support from the History of Education Society's Board of Directors and members, we believe this vision is not only achievable but also a pathway toward securing the future well-being of the society and the journal.

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