Teacher empowerment is a concept with many contested meanings, but the term initially took hold as an antidote to the dominant teacher-as-clerk model. It signaled an attempt by school people to professionalize teaching in the sense of recognizing teachers as experts in the craft and content of teaching, teachers as best able to generate and uphold teaching standards, teachers as most responsible for classroom practice. Teacher empowerment is meant as well to protect teachers from interference from mindless bureaucrats, ambitious politicians, and ideologues of every stripe.

Of course, this does not settle the matter, because teaching in a democracy does indeed require dialogue, conversation, and contestation between teachers, parents, communities, politicians, and the widest possible public. Teachers in this circumstance cannot be entirely free agents, doing ...

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