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Targets, threats and (dis)trust: The managerial troika for public school principals in Chile

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Published: 2015-09-10

Authors

Carmen Montecinos

Escuela de Psicologia Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

Luis Ahumada

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Sergio Galdames

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Fabián Campos

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

María Verónica Leiva

Escuela de Pedagogía Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Keywords: Politics of education; educational policy; neoliberalism; new public management; school principals; professional identity

Abstract

Public education in Chile has been steadily losing students as a result of the implementation, for the last 35 years, of a market model. In this paper we exemplify how a structural problem (public schools’ declining enrollment) created by neoliberal educational policies is transformed into an individual problem to be managed by the public school principal. Principals must sign a performance-based contract that specifies sanctions and incentives for meeting enrollment targets. The current paper examines, through data produced by in-depth interviews and shadowing, how 19 principals worked toward that target. Findings show that to manage enrollment principals spent, on average, 24% of their time performing marketing tasks. Principals, thus, have developed an entrepreneurial self, which is promoted by quasi-market school governance models. Through this entrepreneurship they manage various threats that represent barriers to the possibilities for meeting enrollment targets.

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Author Biographies

Carmen Montecinos

Escuela de Psicologia Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

Dr. Montecinos is a Professor in the School of Psychology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and Senior Researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Education  (CIAE-Universidad de Chile). Dr. Montecinos’ most recent co-authored publications include: School Administrators and University Practicum Supervisors as Boundary Brokers for Initial Teacher Education in Chile (Teaching and Teacher Education, 2015); Managing conflicting versions of professionalism (Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 2014). 

Luis Ahumada

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Dr. Ahumada is a professor in the School of Psychology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile and an Associate Researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Education  (CIAE-Universidad de Chile). Recent co-authored publications include:  A scale of organizational learning in schools (Psicothema, 2012); Distributed leadership during the process of elaborating and implementing educational improvement plans in a rural community in Chile (Revista de Ciencias Sociales, 2011); The construction of parents and teachers as agents for the improvement of municipal schools in Chile (with C. Montecinos, Comparative Education, 2010). 

Sergio Galdames

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Sergio Galdames holds a masters degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Western Australia. Currently, he teaches in the departments of Psychology and Business at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Recent co-authored publications include: The local administrator as a change agent: The role of technical coordinators in supporting Chilean municipal schools (Revista de Investigación Educacional Latinoamericana, in press); School principals at their lonely work: Recording workday practices through ESM logs (with L. Ahumada, Computers & Education, 2012).

Fabián Campos

Escuela de Psicología Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Fabian Campos is currently a doctoral student in the School of Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, where he also works as Department Coordinator for Field Experiences and Student Teaching. Recent co-authored publications include: Excellence in school principal preparation: Same goals, different requirements (Perspectiva Educacional, 2014); Stories of learning and training of eight school principals: An approach to the training of educational leaders in Chile (Recherches en Education, 2013); Development of educational leadership: evidence from a study of life histories (Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 2012). 

María Verónica Leiva

Escuela de Pedagogía Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Dr. Leiva is an Associated Professor in the School of Pedagogy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, Chile. Recent co-authored publications include: Terms of institutional development in schools in Chile (Redie, 2014); Reflections on the school’s role in inter-ethnical relations from Chilean state ethnopolicies (Actualidades Investigativas en Educación, 2014); and Self-diagnosis of situations and needs for educational counseling of schools in the Fifth Region of Valparaiso (Páginas de Educación, 2013).

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Published: 2015-09-10

How to Cite

Montecinos, C., Ahumada, L., Galdames, S., Campos, F., & Leiva, M. V. (2015). Targets, threats and (dis)trust: The managerial troika for public school principals in Chile. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 87. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.2083