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Parents’ involvement in their children’s schooling (PI) has become an established norm in Western society. However, because of the way parents are pressured and positioned within the school system with traditional (TPI) and formalized (FPI) models of involvement, some proponents argue for different and deeper relationships between parents and schools with collaborative (CPI) models. In British Columbia, the current government has proposed through the introduction in 2011 of the BC Education Plan (BCED Plan), that parents in the province could in the future be working in “partnership” with teachers through individualized learning for students. Through the lens of phenomenology, the lived-experiences and beliefs about education and PI of a diverse selection of participants is explored in order to better understand what parents themselves want for their children and what they are trying to achieve through connections to teachers and schools. Conclusions and recommendations about the nature of PI discourse and the future of BCED Plan are offered.
This qualitative study explored the impacts of heightened intra-school competition between elective teachers in three public secondary schools in British Columbia (BC). This study used semi-structured interview data from seven secondary school elective teachers from three secondary schools within one BC school district to explore how teachers perceive and respond to intra-school competition. The BC Liberal government introduced neoliberal policies in 2002 in the BC public school system through the School Amendment Act of 2002 (Bill 34) legislation. Changes included giving parents and students the right to choose to attend any school or program beyond their neighborhood catchment area, provided that there is availability, providing public accountability, establishing greater school board autonomy, and allowing for the creation of for-profit school board companies. The findings show that all of the teachers interviewed felt that they were in competition with their colleagues for student enrolment, regardless of whether or not they chose to actively engage in competitive practices. The majority of the teachers interviewed chose to market their programs to their students. The teachers interviewed did not feel that competition impacted their teaching practices, as they believed that they strived to engage their students due to their own personal motivations rather than through competition. Teachers were keen to protect their specialty area and skeptically viewed new course offerings that may infringe on their area of teaching. Despite the competitive environment, overall teachers did not find that competition for student enrolment impacted their relationships with their colleagues. This study sheds light on how teachers compete and market their courses to drive their course enrolment in the competitive environment that they experience in their schools. This study also illustrates how teachers may act out of self-interest to protect their teaching interests, so that they can continue to teach the courses that they believe are of value to their students and society.
While public school teachers in British Columbia are almost universally referred to as professionals, the meaning of teacher professionalism is not easily established nor widely agreed upon. In this study, I will argue that this lack of consensus is a major factor contributing to the ongoing political struggle over the control of public education in this province. To that end, I have attempted to develop an understanding of teacher professionalism and the differing and often competing ways in which it is conceptualized by various stakeholders in British Columbia’s public education system. Using a conceptual framework based on the academic literature addressing professionalism in general and teacher professionalism more specifically, this study will critically analyze the perspectives of these stakeholders on multiple dimensions of teacher professionalism such as teacher autonomy and teacher regulation. Using case study methodology and critical discourse analysis, I address the following questions: (1) what discourses are competing in framing the central issues that define the current debate around teacher professionalism?, and (2) how do different stakeholders in the public education system in British Columbia use a particular discourse to frame central issues in the debate surrounding teacher professionalism, and for what reasons?