How Arizona Teachers View School Reform
FREDERICK HESS, ROBERT MARANTO, SCOTT MILLIMAN, APRIL GRESHAM
Teachers are pivotal in school improvement efforts. One of the great hopes of charter school advocates is that charter schooling will free good teachers from administrative and bureaucratic handcuffs. How do teachers feel about the reforms bandied about in Arizona? In particular, how do they feel about choice-based reforms relative to other kinds of school reform? Further, what explains why different teachers support or oppose various proposed reforms? These are the questions we will explore in this chapter.
Education researchers agree that the success of school reform depends largely on the teachers charged with implementing the changes in classrooms. Historically, reforms lacking the support of personnel in the classroom core have seldom managed to improve schools ( Sarason 1991, 1996). Consequently, among the keys to improving teaching and learning are increasing faculty commitment, cultivating teacher expertise, and attracting and retaining committed faculty ( Elmore et al. 1996; Fullan 1991; Johnson and Pajares 1996; Murphy 1991; Odden 1991).
Disappointment with pedagogical and curricular reform efforts has increased the attention given to choice-based reforms. Yet we know little about what teachers think about education reforms, whether they be traditional changes or more drastic efforts. In this chapter, we will examine the views toward various reforms from three groups of teachers: Arizona charter school teachers, Arizona district school teachers, and Nevada district school teachers.