Union Contracts and Teacher Professional Development


  • Paul V. Bredeson University of Wisconsin-Madison




Professional Learning Communities, Union Contracts, Interview, educators, Unionism, Governance


In this article, I report the results of an investigation that examined the impact of teacher union contracts on the development of professional learning communities in schools. There are three primary sources of data used in the study: 1) 100 written teacher union contract documents; 2) structured interview data from 21 educators (school superintendents, principals, directors of staff development, and teacher union representatives; and 3) focus group interview data from educational leaders in schools. The analysis and discussion focus on five areas related to teacher professional development with implications for policy and practice: explicit language covering opportunities for teaching learning in their work; governance and decision making structures, that is, specific provisions covering wages, hours, and conditions of employment; the description of legitimate and sponsored activities for the professional development of teachers; and the resources supporting the on-going professional growth of teachers. The findings indicate that rethinking, restructuring, and organizational re-culturing in schools are initial expressions of a new unionism that has the potential to lead to the development of more powerful professional learning communities in schools.


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Author Biography

Paul V. Bredeson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Paul V. Bredeson is a Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches courses in Professional Development and Organizational Learning, Instructional Leadership and School Improvement, and Research Methods. Prior to his appointment on the faculty in 1991, Professor Bredeson was a Professor at Pennsylvania State University and also served as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Study Council from 1985-1991. Professor Bredeson also served three years as a Professor of Educational Leadership at Ohio University. Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Bredeson was a high school principal and high school Spanish teacher in Wisconsin and Connecticut respectively. Professor Bredeson received his B.A. (Spanish) from Northern Illinois University. He earned his M.A. (Spanish) and his Ph.D. (Educational Administration) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also completed graduate work at the Universities of Connecticut and Barcelona. Over the past 19 years, Professor Bredeson's research has centered on alternative conceptions of leadership, especially in regard to school principals. Grounded in his professional work experiences as a Spanish teacher, high school principal, project director for bilingual administrator training, and Executive Director of a research consortium for public schools in Pennsylvania, his research has two major strands. The first strand focuses on the impact of alternative conceptualizations of leadership on the work of school principals and professional development in education. The second is educational leaders' cognition, as expressed through metaphoric thinking and its impact on expert thinking, problem solving processes, and leadership behaviors. His recent book co-authored with Ann W. Hart, The Principalship: A Theory of Professional Learning and Practice, is used in graduate educational leadership and policy programs across the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, and Sweden. Professor Bredeson has served as President of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration, President of the University Council for Educational Administration, a Member of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, and as a Technical Advisor to the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium for the development and assessment of national standards for school leaders. In 1990 Professor Bredeson received the Jack A. Culbertson Award given to one recipient nationally as recognition for outstanding contributions to the field of educational leadership and policy studies. Dr. Bredeson is an International Faculty Associate at Umeå University in Sweden and a member of the Teaching Academy at the University of Wisconsin. He currently serves on the editorial boards for several scholarly journals and remains active in professional associations nationally and internationally serving as a reviewer, member of governing boards, and invited presenter in United States, Europe, Australia, China, and South America.




How to Cite

Bredeson, P. V. (2001). Union Contracts and Teacher Professional Development. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 9, 26. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v9n26.2001