23 SES 04 D, Policy Reforms and Teacher Professionalism (Part 3)
Paper Session: continued from 23 SES 02 D, 23 SES 03 D
Public opinion and teachers' view on education issues
In many European countries education issues and education policies are disputed and controversially discussed by policy makers. And in democratic societies – Switzerland in our case – the policy preferences of citizens matter. Therefore the study of education policy preferences is important from a theoretical as well as from an empirical perspective. Most of the international literature about implementation research in education emphasises repeatedly that the role of teachers and teachers’ belief are crucial for success in innovation at school and in implementing education policies. However the scholarly interest focuses on implementation strategies and policies, neglecting the analysis of micro-level foundations of individual preferences. This current study aims to identify the preferences of teachers towards different education issues that are relevant for education reforms and policies. Two original data set from two different surveys carried out in Switzerland in 2007 and 2012 provide answers to a variety of educational policy issues as well as detailed sociodemographic information about the respondents in order to explore the dynamics of education policy preferences.
The analysis focuses on issues which very likely matter to teachers in the context of their work or which affect their working conditions in a direct way. Compared to previous European and international studies the available data set allows to contrast preferences concerning education issues between qualified teachers and a representative sample of the remaining Swiss population.
One possible explanation for the difference of preferences could be found in the theoretical idea of teachers as education and schooling experts which possibly implicates that teachers think differently from other people about topics related to education and school reforms because they possess more information. Another attempt to explain the difference in preferences is to use an extension of the classical insider-outsider theory. While the theory as originally formulated, explains wage rigidity and unemployment we adapt it to our analysis to non-monetary aspects – more precisely to the working conditions. This leads to the assumption that insider, in our case teachers, might not be indifferent regarding education issues if these affect their working conditions.
Findings suggest that qualified teachers have a distinctly higher aversion to changes that could affect their working conditions or their context of work in a very immediate way. Whereas no differences are observed when looking at issues that are not likely to be relevant for the working conditions or the context of work of teachers.
Comparing the preferences of qualified teachers with the preferences of other people, due to the sample regarded as the remaining Swiss population, it seems that teachers form a particular interest group. As the teacher union can draw media attention to their concerns more effectively than a non-organised group of citizens, it could be relevant for the education policy discourse to be conscious, that teachers could be pursuing self-interests.
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