Specialized, Localized, Privatized
This dissertation presents an institutional and historical analysis of the emergence of new graduate schools of education, or nGSEs. A controversial reform in the field of teacher preparation, nGSEs offer teacher preparation, state certification, and master’s degrees in a variety of new non-university contexts. With bipartisan support and philanthropic backing, the nGSE phenomenon has gained traction quickly. Today, 11 nGSEs, some with several branches, are operating in 16 different states. The dissertation examines the emergence of nGSEs using concepts from sociological neoinstitutionalism through primary document analysis and institutional analysis to answer the following questions: (1) What is the nature of nGSEs as organizations, including their historical features, funding models, and organizational environments? What changes have occurred in these features since the inception of nGSEs? (2) What institutional logic animates nGSEs as organizations? (3) What happens to teacher preparation in market-organized environments? Analysis revealed that nGSEs have diverse organizational origins and that they have largely reconfigured time and place for teacher preparation. As organizations that have moved the bulk of teacher preparation to K-12 schools and/or the internet while evolving rapidly in different environments, nGSEs naturally have different cultural-cognitive schemata. However, market logic is evident in some form, though to varying degrees, at each new organization. nGSEs tend to be private sector solutions to problems in the public education system, and they enjoy the support of education philanthropists who fund alternatives to the public education bureaucracy. I show how nGSEs are fundamentally responses to specialized, and oftentimes regionalized, circumstances that create demand for new kinds of teacher preparation programs. nGSEs are tailored for particular contexts and conditions—some nGSEs serve certain geographical communities while others serve certain kinds of school communities or pedagogical movements. I argue that this has led to the creation of highly specialized niches in the 21st century market for teacher preparation. Though they all constitute one reform, namely the relocation of teacher preparation from universities to new and different kinds of organizations, nGSEs are remarkably different from one another and from the wider field of teacher preparation.