Many of the decisions necessary for student and school success are above the individual teacher and classroom level. Teachers should seek collective autonomy to make big-picture school and program level decisions—such as those about budget allocation, selecting colleagues, discipline policy, and more.
Groups of teachers must take initiative. Boards and superintendents are unlikely to approach teachers offering them greater professional authority. It is too easy for managers to say: ‘teachers don’t want that’. Teachers, and their unions, will need to act affirmatively to get that professional autonomy.
One route is legislative, with teachers and unions advocating for laws providing for autonomous schools. Another is bargaining, with teachers and unions advocating for contract provisions that allow for the creation of autonomous teacher-powered schools or make it possible for an individual school to negotiate a package of autonomies. In the chartered sector teachers can negotiate with the authorizer for the learning program (or for the whole school) to be organized in the teacher-powered way.
What Will Result?
Teachers—when given authority to design and operate of their program, department, or school—change significantly what the learning design is and how the program or school operates. Schools organized in this teacher-powered model look more like “partnerships” in other white collar professions.