Call for Papers
Special Issue for Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions
The neo-liberal restructuring of national education systems is a global phenomenon and represents a major threat to the possibility of a democratic, public education committed to meeting the needs of working class and oppressed groups. Teacher unions, across the world, despite all the attacks on them, represent perhaps the most formidable obstacle to neo-liberal restructuring. Teachers remain highly unionized and although they have suffered many setbacks in recent years, their collective organizations generally remain robust.
Despite the significance and importance of teacher unions they remain largely under-researched. Mainstream academic literature on school sector education policy often ignores teacher unions, even in cases where scholars are critical of the market orientation of neo-liberal reforms. Two recent exceptions to this tradition are the contributions of Compton and Weiner (2008) and Stevenson et al (2007). The strength of Compton and Weiner’s excellent volume is the breadth of international perspectives. However, individual chapters are largely short ‘vignettes’, and the aim is to offer fairly brief and readable accounts, rather than detailed and scholarly analysis. Stevenson et al offer a series of traditional scholarly articles, although the emphasis is largely on the Anglophone nations (UK, North America, Australasia), and the collection fails to capture the full breadth required of an international perspective. In both cases, and quite understandably, these contributions were not able to take account of the seismic developments in the world capitalist economy since Autumn 08 in particular. These developments have significant implications for the future of neo-liberalism, for the development of education policy in nation states and for the policies and practices of teacher unions. There is now a strong case for an analysis of teacher unionism that is detailed, scholarly, international and able to take account of current developments.
This special section of Workplace will focus on the ways in which teacher unions in the K-12 sector are challenging the neo-liberal restructuring of school education systems in a range of global contexts. Neo-liberalism’s reach is global. Its impact on the restructuring of public education systems shares many common characteristics wherever it manifests itself. That said, it also plays out differently in different national and local contexts. This collection of papers will seek to assess how teacher unions are challenging the trajectory of neo-liberal reform in a number of different national contexts. By drawing on contributors from all the major world continents it will seek to highlight the points of contact and departure in the apparently different ways in which teacher unions interface with the neo-liberal agenda. It will also ensure that analyses seek to reflect recent developments in the global capitalist economy, and the extent to which this represents threat or opportunity for organized teacher movements.
Compton, M. and Weiner, L. (2008) The Global Assault on Teachers, Teaching and their Unions, London: Palgrave.
Stevenson, H. et al (2007) Changes in Teachers’ Work and the Challengs Facing Teacher Unions. International Electronic Journal of Leadership for Learning. Volume 11.
Contributions to Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to MLA style. If you are interested, please submit an abstract via Word attachment to Howard Stevenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 31st July 2009. Completed articles will be due via email on 28th December 2009. All papers will be blind peer-reviewed.