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Title:Globalizing teacher labor for the knowledge economy: The case of New York City's Caribbean teachers
Author(s):Fitzpatrick, Margaret
Director of Research:Dhillon, Pradeep A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dhillon, Pradeep A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCarthy, Cameron R.; Barnes, Teresa A.; Dash, Leon D.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Education policy
Global teachers
New York City teachers
Caribbean teachers
international education
Abstract:This is an interpretive and ethnographic exploration of actual neoliberalism as lived by a group of immigrant international knowledge workers and their children, specifically participants in a 2001 New York City public schools recruitment of teachers from Anglophone Caribbean nations. Their testimonies shed light on at least three aspects of the human costs and benefits of globalizing teacher labor for the knowledge economy: the nexus between workers’ rights, citizenship rights, and human rights—and the importance of the nation in advancing these rights; the value of their insider/outsider perspectives on American public education; and the gendered construction of their transnational, transgenerational class projects. I argue that international teacher recruitment, and in particular the U.S. public school recruitment of highly trained teachers from “developing” countries, has become an illusory panacea for alleged teacher shortages, a short-term strategy for staffing classrooms instead of a longer-term and much more difficult and costly set of strategies for really prioritizing education as a necessary core value of a just and sustainable knowledge economy. Focusing on the case of New York City’s Caribbean teachers and privileging their testimony about their responses to such recruitment elucidates many of the personal contours of this emerging strategy of the neoliberalized global governance of teacher labor. This project contributes new knowledge by attending to this understudied population of teachers, revealing the extraordinary flexibility demanded of their globalized labor, citizenship, and humanity; important insights into how American public education could be improved; and key gendered aspects of their experiences. Their lived experiences show ways in which their access to certain workers’ rights precipitated their access to citizenship rights which then precipitated their access to their full complement of human rights. This enriches the discussion on immigration rights, strengthening as it does the understanding of the relationships and interdependencies between these different kinds of rights. Their insider/outsider perspectives on the New York City public schools where they taught deserve special consideration, and can help to clarify what actions must be taken to improve these and other American public schools. Finally, their testimonies also reveal some established constructions of Caribbean gendered identities, in particular the matrifocality of these immigrant families, an organizing principal they have maintained across time and borders. This study is based on intensive interviews with 10 of New York City’s public school teachers recruited from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2001; and five of their adult children. My ethnographic research protocol was modeled on the Leon Dash method of immersion interviewing, especially in two ways: First, I patterned some of the basic introductory interview questions on similar questions developed by Dash over many years, and followed his precepts of tape recording then transcribing the interviews. Second, I spent considerable time socializing informally with as many of the participants as possible, in their homes and churches, at their parties, on subways and beaches, and at festivals and parades, in Brooklyn, New York, and in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. I interviewed these participants from March, 2013 through August, 2013, in Brooklyn, New York and in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. I hoped to learn what motivated these teachers to make this move, how they and their families were coping with some of the special challenges of it, why they in particular may have been chosen over other similarly qualified applicants, and how their particular experiences speak to the wider experiences of flexible knowledge workers operating in a globalized arena. This intensive interviewing method proved particularly effective in generating this new ethnographic knowledge of an as yet understudied group of international and American public school teachers.  
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Margaret M. Fitzpatrick
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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