This dissertation comprises a multilayered inquiry into the complex interplay between governance and teacher education. It adopts Goodlad’s (1990/1994) stance that teacher education best serves democratic society when it is self-governing and maintains decision-making authority with respect to the preparation of teachers. However, pervasive and prescriptive state and federal policies create a regulatory context that supplants the ability of teacher educators to exercise authority over fundamental aspects of their work, including the identification, recruitment, preparation, and assessment of future teachers.
Bacchi and Goodwin (2016) argue that prevailing educational policy critiques underexamine governmentalities—mindsets that render individuals and societies governable (Foucault, 2007). Governmentalities facilitate control by constructing “normal,” “logical,” “necessary,” and “inevitable” answers to questions about “how to govern oneself, how to be governed, by whom should [one] accept to be governed, how to be the best possible governor?” (Foucault, 2007, p. 88). From this perspective, policy critiques that fail to notice and resist governmentalities insufficiently defend professional autonomy; they instead tacitly (re)negotiate conditions under which a profession will accept subjugation.
This study traces deprofessionalizing policy discourses within state-issued, public documents related to 2015 amendments to New Jersey’s teacher licensure law (NJAC 6A:9). It is a poststructural policy critique that seeks to resist governance by disputing the inevitability, necessity, and logic of policy problematizations. Like previous “WPR” studies (Bacchi & Goodwin, 2016), this one unpacks What Problems are Represented to be within a focal policy and prioritizes elicitation of questioning by the reader over reporting of researcher findings. This dissertation, however, extends the methodology as proposed, attempting also to embody exploration of the structures that comprise how answers are represented within dissertations. Specifically, it employs “experimental” (Richardson, 1997), “ergodic” (Aarseth, 1997), and “deconstructed” (Derrida, 1980) approaches to text that call attention to the pervasive, yet typically unquestioned, structures of academic writing.
Together, the critical policy analysis and the atypical format in which it is presented seek to raise critical awareness of governmentalities that support externallyimposed structures that erode the autonomy of teacher education, as well as self-imposed structures teacher educators enact themselves, inadvertently participating in the of confining their understandings of what can and must be.