ERG SES H 09, Policies of Education
The communication is based on a PhD project financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (reference SFRH/BD/80811/2011), which aims at analyzing the controversy surrounding the reform of the Teaching Career Statute of 2007 held in Portugal, as an issue linked to the problematic of the plurality of moral and political judgments regarding the school institution and the teaching profession – and based on the theoretical framework proposed by Boltanski and Thévenot.
The reform of the Statute of the teaching profession in 2007 had a strong opposition from the professional class of teachers. Two key measures make up this reform. On the one hand, the structuring of the teaching profession into two categories - "teacher" and "head-teacher" - with a different functional content (being assigned to head-teachers in pedagogical Responsibilities greater coordination). On the other, is also established a new performance evaluation system more differentiating in terms of career progression. To do so, it is defined a limitation in the assignment of the higher bars and in the access to the higher levels of career. This new architecture of the teaching profession contrasts deeply with the model of horizontal career until then existent, and being the number of career years the primary criteria of progression.
This reform, in the discourse of the reformers, is part of a broader education policy indented to overcome the Portuguese lagging in the educational sector compared to European standards through a new organization and management model of educational resources grounded on the strategy of implementing practices of evaluation and accountability to teachers according to results, efficiency.
However, this reform is part of a set of transformations that occur in the educational systems across Europe, as well as in the United States – and that is also framed within a larger dynamic of redefinition of the functioning of States.
Namely, from the late '70s, the model of "comprehensive school" gradually gives space to the paradigm of "effective" school, focused on the school results of students. International organizations like the OECD advocate a new functioning model for educational systems in order to address the “disenchantment” regarding the ideal of equal opportunities. This new model is based, alternatively, on the objective of “equality of results”.
Now, it is under this new paradigm that we observe taking place education policies towards the territorialization of schools. The growing autonomy of schools serves the purpose of these developing their own pedagogical tools, adjusted to the specifics needs of their school population and thereby allowing an improvement of the school results within the school and, therefore, the improvement of results at a national level.
The evolution of the justice program at the school institution is also framed in a larger evolution regarding the rearrangement of the State. In particular, emerges a new conception of "managerial State", a State governed by the “obligation of results”, flexibility of it structures and by the principle of accountability towards the users of public services and the taxpayers.
In a context of mass schooling and progressive influence of the principle of effectiveness and of the "logic of results" in the organization and functioning of the education system, also the mandate and professional license of teachers suffers deep transformation with the introduction of a complex machinery of evaluation of teachers practices and schools management according to the results obtained.
It is, hence, under these transformations occurring in the educational system that we seek to understand the principles of justice evoked by the parties involved in this controversy and as an issue linked to different conceptions of the school institution as a "public arena".
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