Term of Award

Fall 2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

William Reynolds

Committee Member 2

Grigory Dmitriyev

Committee Member 3

G. Lane Van Tassell

Abstract

State policymakers and school district administrators need to know that their teachers are competent educational professionals, and teachers need to be able to educate students without fear of falling into legal quagmires. This study explores the stories of teachers' knowledge of school law through their lived experiences. The six participants are six certified secondary school teachers who have been employed in their area of expertise for three to twenty years. This study was limited to one secondary rural county school in southwest Georgia.

Critical theory (Freire, 1970, 1998, 2001; Gramsci, 1971; Greene, 1988; hooks, 1994) is the theoretical framework for my study. It fosters the possibilities of change in pre-service and in-service teacher education. Critical theory helps explore the sincerity of people' motives and questions the interests of both individuals and the social and political structures in which individuals live and work. Narrative inquiry (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000) was the methodology used to capture the stories of struggle and success of the teachers in the application of school law that will supply evidence to show a need for establishing professional development in school law training. Data collection methods included school portraiture, participant profiles, observations, interviews, and a reflective research journal.

This study illuminated the stories of struggle shared by these participants as they conversed about their knowledge or lack of knowledge of selected school law topics and gave their perspectives, concerns, and suggestions about what is important and necessary in teacher preparation programs to protect and prepare teachers. To challenge the forces of institutional decision-makers and provide a democratic education for all involved, new emphasis must be placed on adequate preparation for teachers in dealing with problem situations in the classroom.

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