The impact of education reform and equity on practicing educators
The purposes of this study were to determine how practicing educators (i.e., teachers and principals) perceive the impact of educational reform at their local school system level; to ascertain whether they feel equity issues such as gender and race bias have been addressed in the reform movement; and to determine if there were significant relationships between the demographic characteristics of the respondent and their opinions and beliefs regarding educational reform. The methodology involved distributing a nation-wide survey to teachers and administrators who were officers of state associations affiliated with the following national associations: National Education Association (NEA), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Of the 533 surveys distributed, 304 were returned. Survey responses were analyzed through a series of Chi-Square tests of association, by developing individual group profiles, and by the use of summary statistics such as frequency counts and percentage tables. Demographic variables such as the respondent's gender, ethnic background, association affiliation and years of experience were examined in relationship to survey responses. Major findings included the following survey results: (1) When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the major issues and recommendations of the reform movement, practicing educators responded with mixed reviews. (2) Practicing educators responded that reform movement impact at the local level had been modest as they noted little change in the ten areas listed in the survey. (3) The majority of the responding educators felt that the reform movement had done little to increase educational opportunities for females. (4) Practicing educators perceived little change for minority opportunity as a result of the reform movement. (5) Principals and teachers expressed different views on reform recommendations such as merit pay and career ladders. Findings support the conclusion that there is a group of educational practitioners who are generally disenchanted with the current status of education reform and who feel that they have been excluded from the process. A second major conclusion is that the issues of gender and race equity are missing components in the current drive for public school excellence.