FINDING VOICE: NARRATING TEACHER POWERLESSNESS IN AN AGE OF NEOLIBERAL SCHOOL REFORMS
Cooper, Jane McIntosh
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The discourse of neo-liberal school reform is centered on the push for accountability measures and the emphasis on schools of choice (Ravitch, 2013). Accountability measures have resulted in standardized testing, curriculum and teacher practice. Standardization and standard practice come to regulate the field of education by becoming invisible and taken for granted (Lampland & Star, 2009). Charter schools have become prevalent as a school of choice, which appeal to those who wish for privatization and those who desire an alternative choice for students previously underserved by traditional schooling sites (Mehta, 2012). Teach for America and its alumni have had a strong hand in the management and vision of many of these charter schools, based in business model discourse and competitive practices (Kretchmar, 2014; Lahan & Reagan, 2011, Veltri, 2008). With an avowed discourse of change theory, leaders in this organization have set out to make extensive changes to the structure of education (Knopp, 2008). This narrative inquiry and sociological exposition focuses on the experience that a new-to-the field teacher has in her experience in schools of choice, both charter and public. It utilizes James C. Scott’s sociological theories of how states traditionally have enacted reform measures on populations as a device to analyze these experiences (1998, 2013). Teacher forms of resistance are also analyzed in this way using Scott’s understanding of weapons of the weak (1985, 1990). This teacher’s stories are laid along side the sociological texts, viewed as stories (Brochner, 2012), in order to provide new insights into the way that changes of reform are felt and enacted in the everyday lives and experiences of a teacher (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin, Pushor & Orr, 2007). The resonance (Conle, 2000) between the research texts and stories are used as guideposts to shed illumination upon the relationship between teacher’s experience and the context of the reform movement. By looking at the teacher professional knowledge landscape broadly, outside the classroom, where teachers “meet all the other aspects of the educational enterprise such as the philosophies, the techniques, the materials, and the expectations” (Craig, 1995), this work aims to show how an individual teacher uncovers the functionality of the discourse of the reform movement in her own environment (Foucault, 1984). This uncovering, through the stories themselves can become a newly contested space where sites of resistance can be imagined (Scott, 2013). “Where teachers can engage with and resist the compelling and conditioning forces, to open fields where the options can multiply, where unanticipated possibilities open each day” (Greene, 1988, p. 115). Selected References Brochner, A. P. 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