The New Professionalism? Charter Teachers’ Experiences and Qualities of the Teaching Profession




charter schools, urban education, teacher professionalization, professionalism


While teacher professionalism remains a contested topic, scholars increasingly acknowledge the field has entered a “new professionalism” wherein its parameters are dictated by management and the organization rather than those within the occupation. Many argue that this shift has served to decrease teachers' sense of professionalism, efficacy and persistence. Simultaneously, no-excuses charter schools, considered to embrace this new professionalism, continue to proliferate. Yet little is known about how teachers within these schools view teaching and the qualities of teacher professionalism. To address this gap, we interviewed twenty new and novice teachers teaching in high profile charter organizations in the northeast such as Uncommon Schools, KIPP, MATCH, and Boston Collegiate. Our findings suggest that these teachers largely perceived their schools and the degree of professionalism positively. For example, teachers reported that their schools fostered teacher autonomy, professional accountability, and collaboration. However, their schools' high-accountability climates encouraged feelings of competition and caused teachers to question their efficacy, ultimately reinforcing views of teaching as a short-term endeavor. Finally, professional status and rewards were described as low with many teachers saying they felt underappreciated or undervalued. Our findings demonstrate how the climate of “new professionalism” can produce outcomes both consistent and in tension with efforts to professionalize teaching. 


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Author Biographies

A. Chris Torres, Michigan State University

Chris Torres is an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration in the College of Education at Michigan State University. His scholarship focuses on how school choice reforms, particularly charter schools, affect practitioners and educational practice. Currently, his work includes studies on charter school teacher and leader turnover and mobility, sources of learning and support for charter leaders, hiring processes in charter management organizations (CMOs), disciplinary methods in “no- excuses” schools, and portfolio management model (PMM) governance reforms in New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles. 

Jennie Weiner, University of Connecticut

Jennie Weiner is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Her scholarship focuses on issues of educational leadership and organizational change particularly in chronically under performing schools and districts. She is also interested in gender and racial bias in educational leadership as well as issues of educational infrastructure at the local, district and state levels.




How to Cite

Torres, A. C., & Weiner, J. (2018). The New Professionalism? Charter Teachers’ Experiences and Qualities of the Teaching Profession. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 19.