Year of publication
Urban Affairs Review
Teachers have become important actors in national, state, and, especially, local politics. Most research on the political behavior of teachers focuses on their relationship with public-sector unions. While extremely useful, little is known about how teachers form the evaluations of schools and districts that motivate their political behavior. I propose and test a new theory of how teachers evaluate school performance that centers on deliberative democracy. I argue that, in addition to student performance, teachers factor in how “deliberative” school districts are when evaluating school performance. Using two separate survey analyses, this article finds that teachers of districts with a stronger deliberative culture are significantly more likely to give positive evaluations of school performance. Moreover, in deliberative culture districts, teachers and students are more likely to be included in decision-making at the school level. This latter relationship holds true even for teachers in districts with high levels of student poverty.