Engineering Equality: The Organization of Education Labor Markets and the Distribution of Teacher Quality in Japan
Committee ChairGalaskiewicz, Joseph
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis research is an organizational comparative analysis of how the structure of education labor markets affects educational equality. Extant literature on teacher distribution is centered on the U.S. and rarely assesses the influence of organizational structure. My research here addresses these gaps by studying a unique facet of Japan's public education system: jinji idou, a mandatory teacher rotation system governed by the prefectural board of education in which teachers are systematically transferred to other schools in the prefecture throughout their careers. Because jinji idou is absent in private schools, a comparison of the distribution of teacher quality among schools in the private sector with schools in the public sector produces a comparative design that increases my ability to credit jinji idou as a causal condition affecting teacher distribution. My research is motivated by four claims. First, teacher quality is one of the predominant causal variables affecting student performance, outweighing variables such as class size, student background, or spending. Second, there is an unequal distribution of quality teachers in the U.S. that disfavors poor students. Third, this unequal distribution is structurally based—caused by policies that encourage quality teachers to gravitate to affluent schools while less qualified teachers remain at poor schools. Fourth, Japan's public education system is more egalitarian than its U.S. counterpart as determined by the fact that Japanese students have more equal access to quality teachers than U.S. students. Following that, I investigate the organizational structure of education labor markets in Japan: how the careers of educators are managed and the effects this has on teacher distribution. I utilize a mixed-method approach, gathering original quantitative and qualitative data in both public and private schools. Qualitative data provide a detailed breakdown of the formal and informal policies governing this teacher rotation system, and quantitative data examine how this rotation system affects the distribution of teachers both cross and within schools. By examining the more centrally controlled public school sector with more locally controlled private schools in Japan, I am able to explicate how the different organizational structures of the labor markets in these sectors affect access to quality teachers. Results indicate that, for the most part, the public sector distributes teachers more equitably across schools. Furthermore, the public sector has, on average, higher mean levels of teacher quality and higher levels of school performance. This intimates that education labor markets can be structured in ways that simultaneously maximize performance while minimizing variation between schools, findings which should be of interest to scholars interested in structural inequality or educational egalitarianism. In addition to teacher quality distribution, I also analyze the relationship between individual teacher quality traits and school performance, showing that not every teacher quality measure is significantly associated with school performance—information that should be germane to policy makers deciding how to best allocate school-level resources in order to maximize educational egalitarianism. In short, my findings provide an empirical basis for policy makers to consider how the governance of teachers' careers affects educational egalitarianism, and I believe these results not only complement the sociology of education literature but also help refine organizational theory, which is often based on for-profit organizations rather than public institutions such as schools.
Degree ProgramGraduate College