23 SES 10 A, Policy Reforms and the Regulation of Teachers and Their Work
This study investigates the experiences of teachers working in for-profit international schools with the aim of understanding the ways that business practices affect teachers. Schools are increasingly being judged on principles of business including accountability, competitiveness, and efficiency. To gain a more complete picture of how business practices interact with teachers’ work, this research was conducted at the intersection of business and education; for-profit international schools run by large, multi-national education management organizations. Teachers working in for-profit international schools were interviewed about their experiences at work and the findings fit Lazzarato’s (2009) claim that the financialization of social services leads to inequality and insecurity. This inequality and insecurity was evident as affecting teachers’ experiences of their work and is related to the gender and national origin of teachers.
The “well-kept secret” (Hayden & Thompson, 2008, p. 15) of the prevalence of international schools means that the sector is frequently under-recognized for the impact it has on global education policy. The impact is noticeable in places where private schools and, in particular private for-profit schools, are becoming the only option due to a lack of state-run schools (Ridge, Kippels & Shami, 2015). Research about these schools is necessary as “the rapid growth in their numbers in recent years is leading to an increased need for even greater awareness by all who have an interest in education beyond purely national boundaries” (Hayden & Thompson, 2008, p.15). With a backdrop of expanding privatization in state education systems and public-private partnerships in education (Mahony, Hextal, & Menter, 2004), research about private for-profit international schools allows a view into what happens when business models are directing education. Education management organizations “have entered previously highly contested terrain through new norms that are mostly tied to business interests” (Bhanji, 2008, p. 64). Waterson (2015) identifies several highly successful and visible trans-national education corporations “with such growth performance and ambition [that these] TNCs [trans-national corporations] are clearly becoming established players in the market for international schooling” (Waterson, 2015, p. 12). Investigating the practices of groups that combine profit-making with education begins with a critical examination of how teachers’ work is affected.
With business norms molding education institutions, the ideals of accountability, competition, profitability, and productivity take precedence as the guiding force for teachers’ work. For teachers, the business influences cannot be kept separate from the work of teaching because when “performance is evaluated in terms of numerical outputs, bureaucrats have an incentive to maximize outputs, regardless of whether maximizing outputs is the preferred strategy for achieving desired social outcomes (a form of goal displacement)” (Bohte & Meier, 2000, p. 173). School performance is reported based on specific outputs and through official publicity, financial statements, press conferences, and share-holder meetings. Understanding for-profit schools becomes difficult when decision making by these schools is rationalized by business norms, the way they are judged is colonized by business language, and when the school as a workplace is defined in terms of its business outputs. In these schools, teachers’ voices are unlikely to be heard. The aim of this research is to capture the experiences of teachers working within for-profit international schools run by large, multi-national education management organizations.
Bhanji, Z. (2008). Transnational corporations in education: filling the governance gap through new social norms and market multilateralism? Globalisation, Societies and Education, 6(1), 55-73. doi:10.1080/14767720701855618 Bohte, J., & Meier, K. J. (2000). Goal Displacement: Assessing the Motivation for Organizational Cheating. Public Administration Review, 60(2), 173-182. doi:10.1111/0033-3352.00075 Casey, K. (1992). Why Do Progressive Women Activists Leave Teaching? Theory, Methodology and Politics in Life-History Research. In I. Goodison (Ed.), Studying Teachers' Lives (pp. 187-208): Routledge. Ferguson, K. E. (1984). The Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy: Temple University Press. Hayden, M., & Thompson, J. (2008). International schools: Growth and influence: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free Association, Narrative and the Interview Method: SAGE Publications. Lazzarato, M. (2009). Neoliberalism in Action. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(6), 109-133. doi:10.1177/0263276409350283 Mahony, P., Hextall, I., & Menter, I. (2004). Building dams in Jordan, assessing teachers in England: a case study in edu‐business. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 2(2), 277-296. doi:10.1080/14767720410001733674 Ridge, N., Kippels, S., & Shami, S. (2015). Private Education in the Absence of a Public Option: The Cases of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Education Support Program Working Paper Series. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292138912 Sprague, J. (2016). Feminist Methodologies for Critical Researchers: Bridging Differences (Gender Lens Series). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition. Waterson, M. (2015). Working Papers Series International and Global Issues for Research.
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