School choice, teachers’ work, and professional identity


  • Andrene J. Castro Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Huriya Jabbar University of Texas at Austin
  • Sebastian Núñez Miranda University of Texas at Austin



teacher professional identity, teacher labor market, school choice, qualitative analysis


Teacher professional identity, or what it means to be a teacher, informs the types of schools teachers seek for work. With the marketization of schools in the US and abroad, teachers’ professional identities are changing. However, we know little about how teachers negotiate—and renegotiate—their professional identities during the job search in contexts with school choice, such as charter schools. This study uses qualitative interview data from 46 teachers in San Antonio, Texas, where over 25% of students attend charter schools. Our findings illuminate the job search as a critical juncture where teachers evaluate their professional identity as they make choices about the sector—charter or traditional public school—and/or school organization they prefer. In particular, the choice context legitimated flexibility and fluidity in teachers’ professional identity as teachers moved between sectors to find jobs, even if the school did not align with their personal or professional values. We also found that employability and teachers’ perception of the job market played an important role in how teachers strategically presented their professional identity on the job search. Findings offer implications for teacher education and teacher workforce policies.


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Author Biographies

Andrene J. Castro, Virginia Commonwealth University

Andrene J. Castro is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and faculty scholar at the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. Castro’s research explores two educational policy areas: 1) policies and leadership practices shaping teacher recruitment and retention with a particular focus on teachers of color; and 2) educational policies impacting school neighborhood-communities.

Huriya Jabbar, University of Texas at Austin

Huriya Jabbar is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research uses sociological and critical theories to examine how market-based ideas in PK-12 and higher education shape inequality, opportunity, and democracy in the US. 

Sebastian Núñez Miranda, University of Texas at Austin

Sebastián Núñez Miranda is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Planning Program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded by the Chilean government and the Fulbright Commission with the Equality of Opportunities Fulbright-ANID Scholarship for PhD studies in the US. His interests include privatization and the teaching profession.




How to Cite

Castro, A. J., Jabbar, H., & Núñez Miranda, S. (2022). School choice, teachers’ work, and professional identity. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (104).



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