Teachers, unions and professionalism: Views from within the Department of Defense Dependents schools.
AdvisorSacken, Donal M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe setting for this study was the far-flung Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) system, comprising some 260 K-12 schools with 140,000 students and 9,000 teachers in 19 foreign countries. The underlying purposes and need for the study hinged on the fact that teacher unionism and teacher professionalism/professionalization of teaching have not been scrutinized to any significant degree in DoDDS. However, these two strands of research must interact ultimately because, if reform is to occur in DoDDS, it will be reform of a unionized system with its own history of collective bargaining that must impact the direction and consequences of reform efforts. The setting, therefore, presented a prime research opportunity. A review of the literature summarized discourse dealing with the dual issues of (1) teacher unionism, its origins, objectives, impact and trends, and (2) teacher professionalism/professionalization of teaching. Q methodology, based on the "science of subjectivity," was the method used to obtain teachers' views regarding the research questions. Q required respondents to sort a set of cards with statements that mirrored a subjected to computer statistical analysis, including correlation and factor analysis. The three factors that emerged were "prototypes" of the respondents' views and became the basis for interpretation of their views. One appeared open to many of the reforms in which unions play a key role; a second that seemed focused on the status quo as guaranteed by the grievance procedure, with possible support for selective changes; and a third that indicated satisfaction with its site-specific situation, while largely oblivious to the push for reform. The three factors generally supported change with teacher unions playing a major role in that change; strongly supported an overhaul of teacher evaluation systems, albeit without suggesting specific alternatives; and strongly disfavored merit pay proposals as part of differentiated staffing options. Several recommendations are suggested for management and unions to pursue within the DoDDS system if current reform objectives are to be implemented in the DoD school system. These include (1) pursuit of the unionism-reform nexus, based on the factors' general openness to union-led or supported reform; (2) movement toward school-site participatory initiatives, as first steps are made in this direction; and (3) seeking alternatives to supplant or supplement current evaluation practices. In summary, attitudes and conditions within the DoDDS appear conducive for implementation or adaptation of current reform proposals that seek to promote teacher professsionalism and professionalization of teaching. Further research might also fruitfully focus on ascertaining teacher receptivity toward more specific and concrete reform initiatives in the DoD school system.
Degree ProgramEducational Administration and Higher Education