Faculty Lecture Series

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 7:30 pm

‘Blaming Teachers: Using the History of Teacher Professionalization and School Reform to Chart a New Course for American Public Education’

In this Chester Fritz Faculty Lecture, Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, Ph.D. will discuss her new book and the ways historical engagement can reorient reform and chart a new course for American public education.

Historically, Americans of all stripes concurred that teachers were essential to the success of the public schools and nation. However, they also concurred that public school teachers were to blame for the schools’ shortcomings and identified professionalization as a panacea. In Blaming Teachers: Professionalization Policies and the Failure of Reform in American History, D’Amico Pawlewicz reveals how professionalization reforms subverted public school teachers’ professional legitimacy. 

Superficially, professionalism connotes authority, expertise, and status. But professionalization for teachers never unfolded this way. Instead, policymakers, school leaders, and others understood professionalization measures for teachers as efficient ways to bolster the growing bureaucratic order of the public schools. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and reaching into the 1980s, Blaming Teachers paints a picture of the history of American public education, the gendered limits of professionalization, and the racialization of education policy.

D’Amico Pawlewicz will use this sweeping history to address a range of present-day issues including the lack of diversity in the teaching profession, the role of labor unions in public education, calls for school choice, frets over lagging international rankings, and widespread educational inequality. 

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