In the Storm's Eye: How Race, Experience, and Exposure Shape Arizona Teachers' Attitudes Toward School Choice
by Frederick Hess, Robert Maranto, Scott Millman & Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo — 2002
Amidst the growing research on choice-based school reform, little attention has been paid to examining how teachers view school choice or what factors shape their attitudes. Teachers can impact the success of choice experiments through their willingness to launch and staff schools of choice, share information with teachers at those schools, and support change in their unions and communities. Examining Arizona, the state with the nation's most developed system of choice, we explore how personal traits, including race, tenure, partisanship, and familiarity with charter schooling, influence teachers' attitudes toward charter schools and school vouchers. In addition, we examine how other school- or district-level variables, including culture and charter penetration, inform teachers' views. Finally, to assess the effect of experience with school choice, we examine the factors that shape charter schoolteachers' views about choice. Using a 1998 survey, we find that White, experienced, unionized, Democratic educators and those working in "positive" school environments are less supportive of school choice. Charter-school teachers are significantly more positive about school choice than their public school counterparts, although they do not respond to the same variables. The results can help illuminate the likely political prospects and practical effects of choice-based reform.
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