“Are we architects or construction workers?” Re-examining teacher autonomy and turnover in charter schools

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Charter school teachers nationwide expressed greater autonomy compared to traditional public school teachers at the turn of the century. But is this trend changing? The recent proliferation of Charter Management Organizations (CMOs), which often have prescriptive organizational models, has raised questions around how teachers perceive autonomy and control in these schools. Researchers consistently find that faculty input into decision-making has a strong influence on staff commitment and turnover. This exploratory, interview-based study critically examines why and how CMO teacher autonomy is linked to turnover. CMO teachers linked various concerns over autonomy, which was limited by their organization’s model, with decisions to leave their jobs. Teachers with strong expectations for autonomy or ideas inconsistent with their school’s model experienced substantial conflict involving the discipline or socialization of students that affected their career decisions. Teachers’ desires to have a voice in issues surrounding students’ socialization ultimately hinged upon their skepticism that current practices were adequately preparing students for college and life. 


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How to Cite
Torres, A. C. (2014). “Are we architects or construction workers?” Re-examining teacher autonomy and turnover in charter schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 124. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v22.1614
Author Biography

A. Chris Torres, Montclair State University College of Education and Human Services Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership

Chris Torres is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Montclair State University’s College of Education and Human Services. He is a former K-12 teacher and teacher educator whose research currently focuses on teacher turnover, teacher education and development, and the careers of urban teachers and leaders.